Daughters of Cambodia is a faith-based non-Government organization reaching out to victims of sex-trafficking and sex-exploitation in Cambodia. We work to eradicate enslavement in the sex industry by offering to those trapped in it, opportunities to walk free and start a new life. Daughters’ operates a Center in the heart of an area of Phnom Penh brothels, where young women or young men wishing to leave sex work can start a new life, through employment in one of our 8 fair-trade businesses and a range of social and psychological services. Daughters has developed a unique model in Cambodia, one in which sex workers come direct to the organization from the brothels by their own free choice. They come because they are already motivated to change their lives, and our programs empower them to set themselves free and teach them how to sustain their new lives for the long term. Our goal is to empower young women whilst avoiding the NGO and aid-dependent approaches prevalent in this part of the world. We do not run a shelter, but offer jobs in our businesses whilst teaching and empowering those in our programs to change their own lives. Our model operates fair-trade workplaces, with good working conditions, higher salaries than average, training, daycare, medical treatment, counselling, life-skills classes and opportunities to learn about the love of God for them. We help at least 100 girls each year to permanently walk free from sex-work, and to experience psychological healing and quality of life through our programs.
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My husband used to get drunk and beat me, and he had other girlfriends, he was not faithful to me. I tried so hard to stay with him, as we had 4 children together. One day he was drunk and was driving his motorbike with girls on it, and he had an accident and died. After that I had to be father and mother to my children. I did everything I could to feed them and care for them. Most of the time I didn’t have food. I used to ask other people to help me, by giving me food or clothes, but I refused to ever steal something, I knew that was wrong. Then I managed to get a job selling beer, and did this for 2 years, and after that I began to sell my body to customers because I didn’t have enough money to send my children to school, and also my mother became sick. I cried so much. I sent my children away to stay with my parents at this time. I also got pregnant with my 5th baby at that time.
I felt I was on a river, rowing alone. I had headaches, and stress and could not sleep at night. I had 100 problems in my head all the time. Sometimes when walking somewhere I would forget what I had to do. I used to lose concentration. The Doctor told me I had mental problems because I had lost my memory. Sometimes I could not breathe. I felt hopeless and wanted so much to die. When my grandpa died, I wanted to die with him too, as I believed I could be re-born into a different life, but the thing that stopped me was thinking again and again of my children. My friend bought me medicines and they helped me feel better. I also used to drink beer to try to reduce my stress. I used to try to avoid the places that reminded me of my husband having many girlfriends. Doing sex work, I had recurrent flashbacks and nightmares that made me scream at night. I had to take a pill to sleep at that time, and could not fall asleep until 1am.
But I feel so much better since coming to Daughters. Now I never have to take a pill. I still have bad dreams sometimes, but it’s a lot better and I can sleep now by 9pm. I always read my Bible before I sleep now.
At Daughters, I have such a great opportunity and am so blessed to work here. I feel thankful for all the people here that I can talk to, and I feel great release of my emotional pain, that I kept inside for so long. I stopped selling my body immediately. I don’t need a man in my life, I just want to be a good mother and care for my children. At Daughters they teach me how to care for my children and the nurse takes care of my health. I stopped drinking alcohol, and never drink it now. I think about how previously I was not aware of anything, and would walk in the road, and I could easily have been hit by a car. Now I don’t want to die, but I want to be there for my children, and live my life and face my problems.
Now I have hope and I have a plan for the future. I want to learn everything I can learn at Daughters, and then I want to have my own sewing machine to sew in my own home. The church program at Daughters makes me feel better. My leg was so painful, and I struggled to go downstairs to attend church, but then I put my mind on God and my pain disappeared! After that I was able to go to church. Other people in the community told me not to trust in Jesus, that people who trust in Jesus don’t have food to eat and hate their mothers. But I didn’t believe them. Now I am a Christian, and I know the truth. I have a new life, and its getting brighter and brighter.