Sophea did not trust HAGAR. How could she when her very own mother abused her and her father sold her into slavery?

One day, her father drove her miles away to another province in Cambodia and left her with a woman. Life with dad and mum had been hard for little Sophea, but it was about to get many times harder.

Forced into slavery and domestic servitude, the little girl was tasked with household chores, tending the cows, and all the work of a servant. The family did not feed her enough and she was often hungry. When the kids went to school, she would watch them, yearning for the same chance, but Sophea was denied of an education. Everyone in the house treated her violently and would torture and abuse her. They called her the ugly one.

Sophea tried to run away but her failed attempts resulted in more severe beatings and starving bouts in order to subjugate her. In desperation, she took her own life, but those attempts failed too. For 3 years, life was a nightmare that Sophea could not escape even at her own hands.

In one opportunistic moment, Sophea fled the family, pedalling furiously on a bicycle. Thankfully, she met kind strangers who then brought her to the commune chief. When the captors demanded Sophea back, the chief protected her and later the police came and arrested the woman and her husband.

The commune chief and wife cared for Sophea and she was later referred by the Cambodian government to HAGAR. The actions of Sophea was heartbreaking – she was clearly afraid of people, and at any sound, she would run and hide under the table. The couple gave her the name Sophea; she did not have any name before.

Slowly, HAGAR walked with Sophea helping her to receive love and to trust the people around her. It was an incredible challenge. HAGAR also put Sophea into school, providing her with an education and teaching her to care for herself and to value herself. She excelled academically and took up a scholarship in Social Work at the Royal University of Phnom Penh!

Today, little Sophea is a young woman aspiring to help girls who have been abused and have suffered trauma. She also champions for the prevention of trafficking and abuse through increasing awareness in vulnerable communities, and helps the poor improve their living conditions.

The trauma that Sophea suffered is indescribably extensive, but she is no longer bound by her past. In fact, Sophea has contributed to the enactment of the Modern Slavery Act in Australia when she shared her story before a Parliamentary Inquiry. Today, that Act has been passed which could change the future for those who are vulnerable, deterring potential traffickers from exploiting them.

HAGAR provides critical recovery support for victims who have suffered the trauma of sexual exploitation, human trafficking, forced labour or extreme violence. You can be part of the EMPOWER movement that enables survivors with the means to start a whole new life.

Empower a Survivor

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Provide them with the necessary protection, literacy and skills to start a whole new life.

Empower a Survivor

Donate Now

Provide them with the necessary protection, literacy and skills to start a whole new life.

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