More than 100 survivors of trafficking have been given the chance of a brighter future at Hope for Justice’s restorative care facility for teenage girls in Cambodia.
Dream Home provides a home and restoration programme for girls rescued from sex trafficking.
Since the Dream Home was set up in 2008, it has taken in 105 girls. There are currently 22 survivors staying at the home, where a personal care plan is created for each girl and young woman. This includes holistic trauma therapy, medical care and life-skills training.
Most of the girls attend Hope for Justice’s Shine Career School, and many also choose to take advantage of vocational training opportunities with local businesses and organisations.
Girls and young women who have lived at Dream Home have gone on to work in high-end restaurants, salons and jewellery-making businesses; they have become yoga instructors and sellers in art galleries; one girl went on to complete an accountancy degree.
Sola Long, Legal and Social Work Director for Hope for Justice (Cambodia), said: “Things that have happened to the girls in the past can make them lose hope and feel like opportunities are not open to them. But being here opens up opportunities for them.
“When they leave Dream Home we make sure that they are continuing their studies or that they have a job. But there are times when they lose that job or aren’t happy in it and want to quit, and that’s when the case managers will give them support and help them look for new work.”
The restoration programme at Dream Home takes two years but if the survivors complete it before they turn 18 they are encouraged to stay on. At 18 they are entered into the reintegration project, which involves social workers at Dream Home keeping in touch with the clients for up to three years. They provide support for the young women with financial, psychological, health and social issues.
Navy Yun, Case Management Supervisor at Dream Home, said: “Reintegration involves either integrating the client back with her family or into a rental property.
“The reintegration programme is successful in the majority of cases because we prepare them before they leave and because of the follow-up care we give.
“At Dream Home the girls are taught to do chores, such as tidying their bedroom and general housework, and are given money each week, which helps them learn about managing money.
“Some girls save this money and so they have it when they leave. Some will also be earning money from jobs. The clients who are continuing their studies will be helped financially by Hope for Justice.
“The girls are also given a reintegration package when they leave, which can include things like food items, kitchen utensils and bedding.”
There are currently more than 30 former Dream Home residents on the follow-up programme, but some choose to move on completely.
Navy explained: “After a while, some of the clients don’t want to be in touch with NGO staff. For example, if they get married they don’t want their future family to know about their background. We let them know we are always here for them – but we don’t want to interfere with their relationships.”
by Aly Walsh