Putting beneficiaries and donors at the heart of everything we do is a top value that Hagar wholly subscribes to. It is with that in mind that we embarked on a journey with eleven individuals comprising donors, volunteers and partners to visit Hagar’s recovery programmes in Cambodia.
Instead of expecting our donors to place a blind trust in the work we do, we wanted to provide them the experience of witnessing firsthand the impact Hagar is making on the ground with our various programmes and interventions. And at the same time, understanding how exactly funds are being used to empower the future of women and children who have survived extreme human rights violations.
Spanning four days from 22-25 May 2016, the itinerary included sharing from the various departments – Hagar Cambodia Operations Director, Client Recovery and Casework Head, Legal Department Head, Communications Manager, Economic Empowerment Leads – providing a comprehensive picture of all the services and assistance that Hagar provides.
It was a humbling experience to meet the staff whose hearts continue beating with passion even amidst heavy workloads due to the complexity of many clients’ needs. They shared their challenges that sometimes were a result of deep-seated cultures and governing systems. The Cambodian government remains committed to working through the obstacles but it would take time. Many agencies come together to focus on what they can do to alleviate the exploitation the locals face and Hagar is part of that network.
The group visited Hagar’s Community Learning Centre (CLC) where students would undergo an accelerated learning programme and complete two academic grades within a year. This curriculum is aimed at helping children to catch up with their peers so they can return to mainstream schools in the fastest possible time. Knowing the scarcity of resources in the CLC, the group went shopping for educational, craft materials and sport equipment such as balls and hoola hoops that the children could use and play with.
As part of Hagar’s reintegration strategy to help children heal more effectively in a loving family environment, the thriving foster parents programme was launched more than a decade ago. Travelling out of the city into the province, we got to meet a foster family who have four kids of their own, and yet have enough room in their hearts to extend their love to a Hagar-assisted client. Everyone was truly inspired by the foster parents’ generosity and unadulterated love for vulnerable children which was clearly evident as we spoke with them.
One of the other biggest highlights of the trip was the food! Lunches were served at the Hagar Catering Restaurant and Joma Bakery Café where many of the employees are recovering Hagar clients who have received Food & Beverage (F&B) training. The two F&B entities operate with a dual focus of maximising both social and financial value for stakeholders. Each has a core social mission to create safe and meaningful training and job opportunities for Hagar’s clients. The food quality and service was tip-top which left the group feeling suitably impressed by the whole dining experience!
Wrapping up the visit, the group shared their thoughts on what they had observed and learned. Everyone had a renewed desire to share the message back home with their family and friends to increase awareness of the situation. The whole journey to recovery is indeed long drawn and they agreed that it was no easy feat and that it would take a long time for many of these survivors to fully recover, given the circumstances they were put through.
Keep a lookout for our next donor trip to Hagar’s projects if you are interested to join us to have a better understanding of the work that is done.
Hagar is transparent with how funds are being used across all operations and we will be happy to assist if you have any queries. Please drop us a message and we will get back to you soon.