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Monday, 31 October 2016

AFESIP Cambodia: Helping Sex Trafficking Survivors Re-integrate - Page 3

Written by Andrea Oikawa
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For the occasion of the International Women’s Day I helped distribute wrapped gifts to the women -- and they presented me with that smart silver and black necklaced I’d been eyeing upstairs. Complete with a hug, tears edged out from my eyes.


And what would a trip to the AFESIP workshop be without a round of shopping? My eyes grew as wide as the selection of colors the necklaces, scarves and many other accessories were available in. There were some new designs I hadn’t seen yet in the online shop. I wanted all of them but a rogue sensible thought entered. Remember Andrea, you are a budget traveler, a backpacker. Unemployed. You have no income.

Nonetheless I amassed a small collection that came mindfully wrapped in iridescent silk pouches. We all said our farewells and I hopped back into the tuk tuk with my spoils.


Will you come back next year?” Rotha inquired shortly before my departure. Knowing I was on the verge of moving to one of Canada’s most expensive cities -- with no job -- I was unable to make this promise for the following year. Perhaps the one after?


Funny old life; two more years passed and circumstances found me residing in Bangkok. Travel to Cambodia a much simpler undertaking than from Vancouver, I put some birthday money to good use; a plane ticket to Phnom Penh. Despite the final destination being some much needed R & R in the seaside town of Kep, I took advantage of this opportunity to visit the AFESIP team.


Rotha’s enthusiastic smile was in danger of outshining the strong Southeast Asian sun as he eagerly collected me from the arrivals hall of Phnom Penh International airport and ferried me to AFESIP Fair Fashion’s new location, where one lone woman greeted me with her soft smile; the remainder upstairs stitching new creations.


My visit began with a walkabout of the new premises. Mango trees peeked cautiously through the windows of Rotha’s office. “All gone.” Rotha laughed as he opened and closed the window, affording a quick view of the -- now fruitless -- trees. A terrace where the women could relax on their breaks graced the first floor. The street was silent, save the odd passing motorbike.


Carrying on through the workshop, I saw some familiar and new faces. We went over the current products and discussed ideas for new ones. Creations I’d not previously seen included earrings and wallets; as the thought popped into my head for mobile phone, tablet and laptop covers I mentioned it.

SAM 1827


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Last modified on Tuesday, 01 November 2016

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