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Monday, 31 October 2016

AFESIP Cambodia: Helping Sex Trafficking Survivors Re-integrate - Page 2

Written by Andrea Oikawa
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My arrival at AFESIP brought a bundle of energy down the stairs in the form of Rotha. His enthusiasm carried through our initial conversations at the boardroom style table with two small water bottles carefully laid out. Rotha inquired how I’d come to find them.


After reading about Somaly Mam in Half the Sky, her story caught my interest so I read her book to learn more about her. Shortly after, I ordered my first AFESIP silk necklaces online. Impressed by the quality and beauty, I continued to order them for myself and as gifts.” I replied, continuing with the path that eventually lead me to our meeting on the outskirts of a city very far from my home.


Rotha filled in the details of their work, of their struggles. The double victimization the women face; the initial one is obvious. The second being the stigma they face if they return to their villages. Branded as whores. As though they had a choice.


Time for a tour; we ascended the stairs to the second floor where the women sat earnestly at their sewing machines with calm concentration. Undeterred by the entourage of Rotha and myself, the facial expressions of the women belied the horrific happenings of their past. Their introductions included details such as their ages or the area of Cambodia they hailed from.


When presented with some new designs, a simple, smart silver and black necklace with circular discs decreasing in size from the center jumped out at me from the striking silk colors. Up another set of stairs lay the nursery room. A basic and bright space, the neutral colored walls were adorned with alphabet posters.


Their workday concluded with a meeting conducted in Khmer, a language indiscernible to my native English ears. I simply sat in awe of these amazing women. Rotha asked if I wanted a message translated to them and words failed me. Chiding myself on poor preparation for that moment, I merely said something about admiring their courage. Although true and authentic, I wished there was more I could say.


(Page 2 of 4)
Last modified on Tuesday, 01 November 2016

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