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Enslaved, Threatened, Arrested and Deported

Chaya (not her real name) lives in a small village in Cambodia, where everyone grows rice as their main source of food and income. Three years of crop failures because of drought had caused people in the village to run up debt just to stay alive, as their individual crops failed and there was no employment in other people’s fields.

Chaya fell victim to an “employment recruitment broker”, who came to her village offering great employment opportunities in Malaysia. She was offered excellent working conditions and a high salary, which she could send home to her struggling family. This opportunity sounded too good to miss, but Chaya did not have enough money to cover the cost of the passport. She sold her land to pay a highly inflated cost for the passport.

When Chaya arrived in Malaysia, she was unwittingly sold as a slave to a family to work as a cleaner and housekeeper. Her conditions were horrific. She worked long hours of hard labour and was never allowed to go outside the house for any reason. After three months without pay, she asked her employer when her wages would be paid, only to be told that she in fact had been purchased as a slave. She was told by her “owners” that if she tried to escape, she would be found, and her legs would be cut off as well as her hands and other parts of her body.

One day, the owner of the house went to the market and forgot to lock the door. Chaya fled and was assisted by a very kind Malaysian lady, who gave her some food and money to travel back to Cambodia. As she travelled through Thailand to get back to Cambodia, she was arrested by the authorities and deported to Cambodia through the Poipet border post.

Because of supporters like you, Samaritan’s Purse runs a migrant assistance centre at the Poipet border post, where returning Cambodian migrants are given assistance. Samaritan’s Purse was able to give Chaya emergency food and supplies and paid for her trip to return to her village. We are continuing to work with Chaya and are also encouraging her to seek legal help to claim her wages and seek justice.

Prevention is better than cure

Although Samaritan’s Purse assists victims of human trafficking, our focus is the prevention of trafficking, thus providing a holistic solution to the problem. The majority of people who are trafficked do so because they fall prey to unscrupulous traffickers. Dire necessity and vulnerability drives people to take huge risks.

Part of our work in Cambodia includes training people in basic farming and animal rearing techniques to ensure they have sufficient food for themselves and their families – this reduces the need to migrate.

Mrs Chhuern lives with her husband, Yeim, and they have seven children and ten grandchildren. They fell on hard times, and part of the family had to work daily in Thailand collecting recycling materials and doing field work. They were desperately poor and very vulnerable to being trafficked.

Crying, Mrs Chhuern said, “In our life we have had to do everything ourselves with no help from anyone else. We have tried to live by ourselves. Sometimes I cry and I call out, ‘which god will come and help me? Lord, why is that we try and try and then almost die? Why after all this time do we still not have enough?’”

Mrs Chhuern went on to say, “Then in March 2016, Samaritan’s Purse came to visit my house; they asked me a lot of questions and even though they gave me no support, I was happy to have someone give me encouragement to keep living and share his experience with me of his life.”

In April 2016, Mrs Chhuern was selected as a beneficiary of our project, which taught her to raise chickens for meat and egg production. She now has enough food to eat and has sold some chickens to be able to afford medicine that her family occasionally needs, as well as study materials for her grandchildren to go to school.

Because of the help of people like you, Mrs Chhuern’s calling out to God was answered by the one and true God: help came in Jesus’ name.

We urge you to consider donating any amount to enable us to prevent human trafficking as well as to help people at risk, not only in Cambodia but in other nations where we also work.

Please donate today, click below.

 God bless you

Jorge Rodrigues
Executive Director
Samaritan’s Purse Australia/New Zealand