“Today, I make my balloon with my wish inside for my new life”

Survivors of human trafficking being cared for at Hope for Justice’s Cambodia Lighthouse marked World Day Against Trafficking by releasing balloons symbolizing their dreams for the future and their negative experiences being carried away.

The day began with a learning session – the real meaning of this strange word, “trafficking”, and how it related to them. Our Cambodia Director, Maggie Crewes, explained: “For some of the girls, they don’t associate their experiences with this word and they learn it is bad, wrong, against the law, against their human rights. They did some reflection on what negative emotions they carry around from their exploitation and that they want to let go of.

“They wrote these things and put these messages inside helium balloons and released them into the air to be carried off by the wind – to let go and show they can be released from these negative emotions and not have to keep carrying them again.”

They drew pictures of ‘My life before and my life now’ and dreamed dreams for their futures, putting their wishes inside other balloons to soar into the air.

The girls then joined together to make a poster saying “Together we can do this”, because rescue is not an event, it is a process – one that involves the survivors helping each other and being helped by the specialist team at the Lighthouse to overcome their trauma and past experiences and prepare for the future.

One 16-year-old survivor of human trafficking, Chariya*, said: “Today I learned something about this new day. I have understood that what happened to me: being sent to China by that promise of a good job for my family, and made to marry that man against my wishes. I learned this is a bad thing, a crime, that the Cambodian government even say is against the law. Today, I make my balloon with my wish inside for my new life. It floats up to the sky carrying my wish and I pray blessing on that wish to come true for me and my new life. Today I feel happy to know these things.”