47 % of trafficked persons returning from Thailand have stated that their mother was the facilitator of their trafficking.
Imagine yourself as a Cambodian woman. You survived a genocide that eliminated four million people and forced the rest into extreme poverty. Because there was nowhere else for you to go, you live on a minefield.
You’re a Cambodian woman surviving on a minefield. You have to walk nearly a mile each day to gather two buckets of dirty water. Water you share with livestock. You live in a grass hut. One of the most prevalent protein sources is a rat - which is free if you can catch them. Free is good, because money is scarce, and there are no jobs to be found.
You’re a Cambodian mother living on a minefield. You have two young boys, and one of them has a blood disease. You also have a baby girl and a beautiful teenage daughter. The survival and health of your children are all you think about, but you’re powerless to improve their quality of life. How will my family have enough to eat today? Where am I going to get money for another hospital visit? How will I ever pay off my debt?
You cry every day because doctors have told you that your son’s condition is too fragile for surgery; but without surgery, he won’t survive. You are desperate and you are without options.
The woman I had you imagine is Som Kim before employment with LandMine Design. Som Kim was one of our original hires in the LandMine Design program. She still talks about those dark days of not being able to feed her family with tears in her eyes, and a special anguish in her voice.
Som Kim now earns an income, she can feed her children, she even saved up enough money to open a noodle shop out of her home. She has a light in her eyes that were clouded with pain just a few short years ago. Som Kim is a success story and a testament to the effectiveness of the program.
Then, a couple of months ago I heard the news: Som Kim was thinking of sending her daughter to Thailand for work. A ‘recruiter’ had visited her village and talked with Som Kim about ‘helping’ her daughter with a job in Thailand. I was chilled to the bone by those words, and what the implication was that teenage girl. What was she thinking?? Doesn’t she know the dangers? Could this loving woman actually be selling her daughter to the evilest industry in the world?
Situations EXACTLY like this are how many girls and boys are enslaved. A promise of money to a family that is uneducated and in need. It’s so insidious, it’s hard to believe. It boils down to these destructive components:
Lack of Education - These families don’t know they’re being lied to. They don’t know they’re being taken advantage of in the worst way. Som Kim had no idea that slavery could be her daughter’s fate. The traffickers know that a lack of education is to their benefit, and so they prey upon the vulnerable.
Desperation - This one is tough to swallow. Poverty in so many ways equals desperation. It’s a desperation and hopelessness than most of us haven’t the slightest idea how to comprehend. As unbelievable as it seems, some families sell their children into slavery because they don’t feel as though they have any other options.
Thankfully we were able to get to Som Kim before she made a terrible mistake. The prevention of situations just like that one is what we’re about. Each life saved is a victory. Each woman hired is another woman pulled out of desperation, and lifted into a life of hope.
So, we’re asking you to join us. Purchase a product. #WearHerStory and rewrite her story.
Every dollar goes directly towards hiring another woman and preventing that woman and her family from ever having to experience the unspeakable horrors of human trafficking.
Let’s end it together.
- Sarah Addy