Hagar Design, Cambodia25 Mar 2007, by Uncategorized in
Hagar Design, based in Phnom Penh, trains and employs several hundred survivors and high risk youth in self-sufficiency programs including handicrafts, a café, and a soy milk factory. Hagar also operates an orphanage – the House of Smiles – for the youngest survivors. Sadly, in Cambodia, these can be preschool age children.
The Hagar social work team, comprised of sex trafficking survivors, goes daily into the red light district to gain the trust of the people there and to offer them the opportunity to leave the flesh trade and come to Hagar. Many of the prostitutes have become so demoralized and habituated to their situation, that they cannot see a way out, even if they are no longer literally imprisoned.
It takes months or even years to convince these older girls to walk away – they fear reprisals from their captors and also the stigma they will face in Cambodian society. Sometimes, adult women in the district give the social workers information about very young girls being held captive as sex slaves, so that a rescue raid can be organized.
With help and support from Hagar, many young people have been able to rebuild their lives and rejoin mainstream society.