Precious girl, 8, is living testimony of life changed and set free from slavery

A brave eight-year-old girl is embracing her new life after being freed from sexual exploitation.

Chaya* is Hope for Justice’s most recent arrival at our Lighthouse in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, an aftercare facility for children who have been exploited or exposed to exploitation.

Her first question to our Lighthouse case manager was: “Is there school here? 

Our case manager said: “This little girl has been exploited in unimaginable ways. Her vulnerability was abused by her mother, who forced her to perform sexual acts on adults. This exploitation continued for more than one year.

“It is difficult to imagine how any parent can do this. But desperation and the grip of a drug addiction were the backdrop to this mother’s decision to exploit her own daughter. They had lost everything and ended up living on the streets, having to find a way to survive.

“When Chaya first arrived at the Lighthouse, I remember her bright eyes and huge smile as she enquired about an opportunity to learn. It amazes me how children like Chaya are able to remain so engaged and hopeful after everything they have been through. Her resilience is astounding.”

Since arriving at our Lighthouse earlier this month, Chaya has been given the care and support that she had been deprived of. She is now safe, with shelter and protection, regular food, clean clothes, a shower and a bed.

She has also been given the chance to take part in school lessons, to play, to learn, to develop friendships with the other children – the chance to be a child again.

To help with her ongoing recovery journey, Chaya is receiving trauma-informed care, counselling, therapy and one-to-one support.

The Lighthouse case manager added: “We know that Chaya has only just begun this healing process but her enthusiasm to engage with all that is on offer at our Lighthouse gives us hope for her future.

“Despite coming from a family situation that is broken and painful, she has taken the first huge step into freedom. This precious young girl is already a living testimony to a life changed and to a world where slavery ceases to exist.”

*Name and image changed to protect identity of victim