As you are reading this, approximately 260,000 Cambodians that were living in poverty have recently been sold lies of a promising future by traffickers, before being trafficked both within and across borders. At this exact second, thousands of them are trapped indefinitely at sea on fishing boats, working 20 hours a day, unknowing of the next time their feet will touch land. (Excerpt from our 9th Blogpost)
Human trafficking is an inhumane form of exploitation that strips children and adults of their most basic human rights. As a result of modern-day slavery, countless lives are lost, those that escape, often return home destitute and traumatised. With our goal to prevent human trafficking in the local community, this is a topic that we feel strongly about sharing.
As such, we are proud to announce that REACH Siem Reap has teamed up with the Green Gecko Project to help raise awareness in the local community about the dangers of human trafficking. To do this, we are screening Buoyancy the film. Buoyancy is an Australian-directed film inspired by actual events, following a 14-year-old Cambodian boy who falls victim to human trafficking when he is illegally smuggled across the border and enslaved on a Thai fishing boat.
A still from the film ‘Buoyancy’.
Our communication with Green Gecko Project first unfolded in November last year when we hosted a screening of the film to all of our staff. The purpose of this screening was to educate our staff on the dangers and warning signs of human trafficking which is a huge risk to vulnerable children and adults in Cambodia. After seeing this on social media, leading actor Sarm Heng, who grew up with the love and support of Green Gecko – an NGO founded by Tania Palmer in 2005 to prevent the human trafficking of street kids and their families – got in touch with us to collaborate. Sarm and Tania came to REACH for a meeting, and we learned that the initial purpose of their involvement within this film was to be able to raise awareness on the dangers of illegally crossing borders in search of work.
Our first meeting with Tania & Sarm in November 2020.
After their involvement in creating this film, Tania and Sarm both have the goal of sharing this story with as many people as possible. Tania said to us:
“Even if this film prevents just one child from the same fate as Sarm’s character, it will all be worth it.”
Equally as passionate about human trafficking prevention, our team decided that the most meaningful way to work together would be to have Sarm host screenings with our staff to Siem Reaps most vulnerable communities.
As a trial, we conducted a small screening with 20 of our REACH parents and guardians. Our staff gave an introduction to human trafficking and asked parents and guardians about their first-hand experiences related to trafficking. With this screening a great success, we have held an additional screening for our 14 REACH Role Models over the age of 15 years. Sarm and our staff discussed the reality of this threat and stimulated a meaningful discussion with our youths, enabling them to understand the manipulation involved to coerce vulnerable youths and adults to work overseas.
Screening of ‘Buoyancy’ to our REACH guardians.
Following this, we decided to begin delivering fortnightly screenings, intending to educate all of our immediate beneficiaries (youths aged 15+ and all guardians at REACH). We have since developed a structured introduction to the film defining the 3 main types of trafficking: sex trafficking, forced labour, and debt bondage. At the end of the film, the engaging Q&A’s facilitated by Sarm have assisted our team in surveying our parents and guardians about their personal experiences.
Of the parents/guardians surveyed, we learned that 40% had already been victims of human trafficking. All of these beneficiaries revealed that they earned under $80USD a month in horrid conditions. Those that laboured as construction workers disclosed that it was common practise for them to work for 12 arduous hours a day in Thailand, lifting concrete and cement under the hot sun, for months on end, without receiving one single dollar.
One personal case that was discussed during a session, was a mother who earned a mere $40 per month to be kept inside a house as a slave, fortunately, she was able to escape and return to Cambodia, but has suffered immense trauma that still affects her every single day.
But these are only the stories of the “survivors”.
The ones that escaped and returned home….tragically, there are still a quarter of a million Cambodians that are currently suffering through this nightmare. Once victims have been trafficked across borders, their chances of returning home are small.
With this illegal practise so rampant in South East Asia, after the completion of screenings to our direct beneficiaries, together with Sarm, we will begin facilitating these workshops and screenings to other local NGOs within Siem Reap.
To host a Buoyancy Workshop to 15 at-risk Cambodians, it costs REACH approximately $30 AUD. This includes transportation for Sarm, printing costs, as well as snacks and refreshments for our parents / students. If you’d like to support this initiative, donate today and remember to leave “Bouyancy Workshop” in your comments.
If you are a Cambodia charity that would like to have Green Gecko’s Sarm and the REACH Staff facilitate a session later this year at your project, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
We would like to thank Tania and Sarm for joining forces with us and enabling us to help share their important message. This year, together with Green Gecko Project, we look forward to showing this educational movie to as many at-risk families and youths as possible to educate and prevent them from falling victim to human trafficking.
REACH guardians after a Buoyancy screening.