Human trafficking: an unbeatable force?
Human trafficking is the fastest growing international crime, enslaving 1.2 million children every year. How can we combat this monstrous epidemic?
Naively, I had imagined that the battle against such exploitation was confined to the front line – young girls found smuggled in vans, rescued from international borders at the dead of night by individuals who might as well have been wearing capes and have an ‘S’ imprinted on their chest.
Now, I am not denying that there is a need for such bravery and heroism. With 600,000 – 800,000 men, women and children trafficked across international borders each year, there is undoubtedly a place, and a need, for such intervention. However, the $32 billion annual industry, requires more than front line fighting.
I have spent the past five months living in a country that is beautiful and captivating – with white sandy beaches, tropical islands, impressive temples and a rich culture. Yet, this same place is a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking.
Cambodia has over 15,000 prostitutes, a third of whom are under 16.
Volunteering with Tearfund’s partner, Cambodian Hope Organization (CHO) in Poipet, Cambodia I have witnessed how the real hope for winning the war against human trafficking begins in the communities of those most at risk.
I have had the privilege of supporting their educational outreach programme, School on a Mat, which sees children, otherwise unable to attend primary school, provided with a basic education.
Parental migration, the need to work and a lack of financial resources prevent many children attending school between the ages of six and thirteen. Taught, for free, on a mat in their village this project changes that- equipping these children for a future of opportunities.
Throughout my involvement, I have come to understand that the vision for the project extends far beyond the function of providing primary education. Through School on a Mat, along with classes such as Khmer (Cambodian) and Maths, students are taught ‘life skills’. These include child rights, safe migration, health, hygiene and how to protect themselves against sexual exploitation.
In this way CHO are fighting the battle against human trafficking- protecting vulnerable children from exploitation, through education.
School on a Mat has a direct impact on over 480 children.
Yet, the full impact is much greater, permeating throughout the whole community, as the children share their knowledge, resulting in an improved quality of life for all villagers.
Unfortunately, without further funding, School on a Mat will be forced to close in Thmar Bang and Ou’kach village leaving over 80 children without access to primary education. After spending time in these villages as a volunteering team we are desperate to help ensure that the education of these children are protected.
We have created an initiative that aims to ‘engage children and young people in issues surrounding global education’ whilst also encouraging them to think of creative ways to support the project in Cambodia. If you would like to know more about the initiative and our fundraising activities please do check out our Facebook page or email us at email@example.com.
Human trafficking can seem like an unbeatable force. Thankfully, we know a God for whom nothing is impossible.
Education is how we will see not only a reduction in human trafficking, but also the effective prevention of such exploitation.