I’ve always been a compassionate person and I have a massive heart for empowering women. Sexual assault and rape seem to be so common these days and it breaks my heart that it’s not something that’s taken more seriously. If a girl says she’s raped she’s often met with accusations of being a liar/attention seeker or is blamed for provoking the attack. It’s something I’ve been really passionate about changing since I was young so when I first saw a documentary about sex trafficking in Asia I felt moved to do something to help.
The documentary I watched was by the BBC and they were investigating what goes on in Cambodia. It hurt me so much to hear a mother telling the story of how she sold her 3 year old daughter to a pimp so she could buy a television. Another part of the programme showed the police being paid off whilst they were on their way to shut down a brothel and it made me so angry. Next I watched the documentary ‘Nefarious’ which told similar devastating stories. But this one also showed how rescue homes were being used to help women and children rebuild their lives. As soon as I got home I had a thorough search on Google and decided I wanted to work with SHE Rescue Home in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. SHE cares for girls aged 5-16 who have been or are at risk of sexual exploitation, rape or prostitution. They work with several local and global organisations to help these girls heal from their past and reshape their futures. I know sexual exploitation is a problem in all parts of the world but my heart kept being drawn back to SHE.
After my application was accepted I began my fundraising journey. I had 12 weeks to raise £1500 and luckily I received so much support. My work colleagues arranged a fundraising party and a local newspaper wrote an article to let people know about it. And a week later I received an email from a lovely woman from England who had read the article online. She was about to donate some money to SHE but found my story in her Google search instead and wanted to send a £50 cheque in the mail to help me reach my target. I couldn’t believe how much support and encouragement I was receiving and I’m still so thankful for it all.
Fast forward a few months and I had reached my fundraising target as well as a lot of awareness about sexual exploitation. I was in Cambodia with a team of 6 other young women from the USA and Australia. My time in the SHE house absolutely changed me forever. Seeing these tiny girls running around laughing and smiling, I couldn’t even fathom the things that had happened to them. These girls showed me the beauty of forgiveness and it was really special to see that there is hope even after such horrifying occurrences. SHE Rescue Home does a fantastic job with these girls and they have even managed to reunite some of the girls with their families. If you’d like to donate or find out more about their organisation, you can do so here.
I still have so many stories I’d like to share about my time in Cambodia so will be writing a part 2 soon!