A21 has been working harder than ever during the COVID pandemic to ensure their programs are still running even within the restrictions and limitations of this season including A21 hotlines, Child Advocacy Centres (CACs), aftercare programs, as well as leveraging online opportunities to promote prevention, awareness, and educational resources.
And through it all, stories of restoration emerge.
Gia* was halfway through third grade when her parents encouraged her to drop out of school to support the family. Growing up in an underprivileged home in Cambodia, Gia’s family struggled to generate enough income to eat.
As she entered her teenage years, she felt more pressure to support her family financially. One day, a woman approached Gia with pictures of big houses, nice cars, and happy families. The woman offered a solution––to marry abroad so she could have a better life.
Desperate to help her family, she accepted with the encouragement of her parents. Gia packed her bags and traveled to China. But when she arrived, she was locked in a room and stripped of her legal documents and personal belongings. Abused since day one and forced into sexual exploitation, Gia lost hope of ever seeing her family again.
Until one day, a couple noticed she was trapped in exploitation. They helped her escape through an open window and back to Cambodia. Gia braved the dangerous journey across the border without legal documents and limited funds. Upon her return, she was identified as a victim of human trafficking and referred to A21’s aftercare program.
Today, at the age of 21, Gia is safe, free, and healing from the trauma she experienced. She’s regaining her strength through counseling, life skills training, and additional services to restore a life of independence. With our team’s help, she’s also developing a small business plan to sustain her future.
We’re proud of her accomplishments and grateful to walk alongside Gia on her journey to full restoration
Growing up in a rural community in Cambodia, Lisa’s* parents were left with no choice but to find work in a neighboring country–leaving 12-year-old Lisa behind. She thought her parents would be gone for a short time, but she became more vulnerable as the months passed. Lisa began asking for help from people in her village.
When a man from a nearby community offered to take care of her, promising food and shelter, Lisa accepted. But what she thought was an opportunity for safety and comfort was a lie. She was left on city streets and forced to beg for money alongside other children her age, abused and neglected if she didn’t meet the quota for that day.
Many nights, Lisa spent hiding from her traffickers and sleeping on the streets. She was often approached by men and robbed by other children. Until one night, during an A21 outreach program, our team identified her and assisted her to safety alongside local authorities.
Lisa hadn’t eaten in days. Starved and in need of immediate care, she was placed in emergency foster care, where all of her needs could be met. Today, we’re excited to share that Lisa is enrolled in school and meeting with a counselor regularly. She’s safe, free, and on a journey to restoration.
Thanks to your generous support, children like Lisa are free from exploitation and get to be kids again
Bora* is the oldest of three children and responsible for caring for his younger brother and sister. Growing up in an underdeveloped community in Cambodia, his parents struggled to generate a steady income–loaning money from friends and neighbors to buy food and pay the bills.
At the age of 10, Bora went to work to help his family climb out of the debt they’d acquired. Separated from his family, relocated to a different city, and trafficked for forced labor, he was working 12-hours a day in dangerous conditions. He often went without food or water to generate a profit for his trafficker.
His exploitation continued for many years.
Until one night, there was an accident. Our Child Advocacy Center was called and notified of suspected child abuse and requested to identify the victim. Together with local authorities, A21 intervened and assisted Bora to safety.
Today, Bora is free and receiving the on-going support he needs to heal from the trauma. He’s in school for the first time in his life, and he’s positively engaged in his community. We celebrate his freedom, the opportunity to get aneducation, and dream of a bright future ahead.
Thanks to your help, A21 is working with Bora’s family to ensure his two younger siblings’ safety and protection
Freedom is possible. And we stand alongside A21 until every man, woman and child is free from exploitation in all its forms
*The names of survivors have been change to protect their identity