Continuing our series spotlighting individuals who’ve helped the organisation grow in the last 10 years, this week we talk to National Director and long-time staff member, Ros Yeng.
Yeng's story began back in 2005 when he was one of just three members of staff at Chab Dai the time, sharing an office with World Hope International (we now have a workforce of more than 40 at our independent offices in Phnom Penh!). Having worked as a pastor and counsellor prior to Chab Dai, Yeng was initially hired as a Facilitator and back then his role was varied, planting the first seeds of Chab Dai’s prevention programmes out in the provinces of Cambodia.
The growth of human trafficking prevention
“When I started, I knew some friends working in the church who didn't know how to help with the human trafficking issue - I went to visit many pastors in Battambang, and only two of them knew about the issue.
These pastors, they worked on Sunday at the church but Monday to Friday, they had other jobs, working on their own business as a tuktuk driver or a farmer. So they would sometimes take some boys from the field, into the town to meet foreigners in a hotel and the foreigners gave them a lot of money.
They didn't understand – perhaps they expected that the foreigners love the kids, gave them some food or had a gift for the boys, something like that. This is why I started to do prevention in those times.”
The prevention project Yeng first started was called the Church and Community programme, originally aimed at preventing child trafficking by empowering community leaders to educate their communities, to intervene with suspected cases of abuse like the above and to be able to support survivors. Chab Dai now run three more comprehensive human trafficking prevention programs that have grown from this - Safe Community, Ethnic Community and Community Heroes - Yeng sees these as the ‘fruit’ of his early successes.
Networking at a National Level
So how about his role now?
“Chab Dai is quite changed from the beginning – the first four, five years, I was working on coalition-building, prevention, everything. Then in 2010, Helen [International Director and Founder] handed the leadership of Chab Dai Cambodia over to me.
“Now I work on organisation development, spending time with the Steering Committee, to help support and guide the direction in which Chab Dai is going. It's important that I work with the government as well – with the National Committee to Lead the Suppression of Human Trafficking, Smuggling, Labour Exploitation and Sexual Exploitation of Women and Children.”
Yeng’s work has progressed from local to national level in the last decade, and a large part of his current position involves meeting with and educating the Cambodian government to promote the cause of anti human trafficking.
“We have built up a relationship from 2009 until now, so we have gained the trust from the government – they know we are focused on stopping human trafficking.”
After a whole decade working at Chab Dai, Yeng believes he is fulfilling God's plan for him:
“We have a passion to help the children, to help and improve the local people. I believe that through Chab Dai, we are showing God's love to bring justice and empowerment to communities.'
Article by Laura Gavin
If you want to hear more about Yeng's work, he will be speaking at Justice Conference Asia later this month (April 30 - May 2).