Cambodia is sharply impacted by poverty, political instability and corruption, and has become a hub of human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation. The NGO AFESIP (Agir pour les femmes en situation précaire – Acting for Women in Precarious Situations), created in 1996 by Somaly Mam, a former victim of prostitution, develops a comprehensive program to fight against human trafficking, around three pillars of complementary initiatives to reintegrate the victims into Cambodian society:
Makara* is a sewing graduate of AFESIP Rehabilitation and Vocational Skills Training Centers. She is now a skilled seamstress, a qualified sewing trainer and runs her own business, at the age of twenty-six.
“I spent around two years at AFESIP’s Tom Dy Center. As a child, I only completed one or two years of school. At the center however, I was able to study to grade four level. I enjoyed learning. Aside from sewing, I also learned jewelry making and studied Khmer, English and computer skills. At the center I had been given a lot of opportunities so when I left, I had the chance to give back.
I took a job in an orphanage teaching sewing, and I also became qualified as a sewing trainer. A year later I felt ready to start my own business as a seamstress. The AFESIP Reintegration team was a great support and provided me with all the equipment and materials I needed to set up and they even found me a property to rent. Now I am in my second location. I found this place by myself and I share it with my sister who is also a graduate of Tom Dy Center and she has her hair salon here. I have been doing this for two years and business is good, better some days than others.
The AFESIP Reintegration team still checks in on or phones me once every two to three months to see how I am doing. I’m not dating anyone and am not planning to get married in the near future, but I am very happy. My life is totally different from how it used to be. Not only am I financially independent, but I have a skill”.
*Name has been changed