Ten years ago, I was working for a small child protection consulting company in Canada, writing policy and (slowly) learning how to apply all my theoretical undergraduate knowledge to the real world. I was also learning how to be married to my husband of 3 months, and we were excitedly saving and planning to leave the next year for our first overseas placement.
Recently we dedicated our Chab Dai Library and Resource Centre to Siobhan Miles.
This dedication honors her commitment, perseverance and legacy of the Butterfly research and the voices of survivors who, through this research, are able to have their experiences, hopes, fears and opinions shared not only in Cambodia but around the world...
Human Trafficking is a worldwide crime that particularly is being carried out in South East Asia. With different push factors, Cambodia is one of the main transit countries in South-East Asia. Women, men and children are trafficked and tricked into slavery every day to perform inhumane work in various industries such as fishing, prostitution, forced marriage and factory labor.
"How effective are volunteers?"
Last year we had the opportunity to take a look at one of the aspects of international work that comes up a lot. We got to look at a very interesting question: How effective are volunteers? and how is their work perceived by those who live and work in the countries where they go to volunteer?
Chab Dai took its first steps as an organisation in 2005, when the coalition’s first staff came on board. Helen recounted Chab Dai’s first hires, including Chab Dai’s current National Director Ros Yeng: “I had sent out a number of ads for someone to apply for the position of national coordinator, because from the beginning I had a five-year plan to hand over leadership...
No successful movement or organisation is without its challenges and setbacks. These setbacks were indeed plentiful in the early stages of Chab Dai’s formation, and stalled the founding group of small organisations’ joint proposal for over six months.
After a number of roadblocks and disappointments, our founder Helen Sworn had a dream about continuing with the coalition, and approached the group of small organisations again. “We couldn’t directly fund any of the small organisations, but what we said we’d do was focus on training, resources, advocacy and development of a coalition. It was difficult telling the small organisations we couldn’t fund them, but they still expressed interest in what we were planning to do”.
The context of Chab Dai’s origins is fascinating and extensive, dating back to 1999, when there were a just “a few faith based organisations and some other UN lead agencies who first saw the emergence of human trafficking”. Human trafficking was indeed an issue that was just coming to light, and few organisations had tangible knowledge on the phenomenon.
“The early responders were those already on the ground who were doing related work but not direct work”, something that illustrates how interconnectedness with other social issues is a core element of trafficking. Helen was one of these early responders, first coming across the phenomenon while working on a baseline research with a team in Poipet, on the Thai/Cambodia border, with children who had been deported from Thailand.
Charlie Dittmeier estimates that there’s around 51,000 profoundly deaf people living in Cambodia. “And we’ve worked with only around 2,000 of those since we started in 1997,” he says.
Charlie works for the Deaf Development Programme here in Cambodia, run by global Catholic mission organisation, Maryknoll. They educate over-16s and young adults, teach them Cambodian sign language, give them vocational training, keep a registry for the deaf and perhaps most importantly of all, help them to feel part of a community.
The problem is, there isn’t really such a thing as a deaf community in Cambodia. Often those still out there on their own won’t know what’s happened to them, why they can’t communicate with others, or that there are others just like them.
In 2010, a unique piece of research began at Chab Dai – one that would enable survivors of human trafficking to tell their own stories about reintegrating into the community. As we continue to look back on some of the achievements we’ve been most proud of, we catch up with Lim Vanntheary, Project Manager for The Butterfly Longitudinal Study.
A field-based research project, the Butterfly Team conduct interviews with both male and female participants who have received some form of assistance or care after experiences with sexual exploitation or trafficking. Participants might have spent time in a shelter, foster home or received community assistance training. Over the course of ten years, the same 128 participants are interviewed to understand their feelings about (re)integrating into the community, work and family relationships.