Chab Dai Prelude - Part 2: 2001-2004

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”.

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Chab Dai Prelude - Part 1: 1999-2001

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.

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Stopping exploitation in Cambodia’s deaf community

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.

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10 years of Chab Dai: The Butterfly Project

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.

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Cultivating Community Heroes

We’ve been selecting and training Community Heroes from all over Cambodia since 2011, watching as they go on to train other members of their community on how to protect their family from traffickers, raise awareness about abuse and educate on human rights. As part of our anniversary series celebrating Chab Dai’s achievements, we talked to Nop Sen, Project Manager for the Community Heroes team.

Sen won a scholarship to study an ABA in English Literature with Asia HRDC before working in administration and human resources. He came to the Chab Dai via the then-called Doorsteps Project (now Charter-Doorsteps) and now decides budgets, coordinates activities and prepares crucial reports for the Community Heroes Team.

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10 years of Chab Dai: Making a coalition work

The Learning Community project is a definitive part of the Chab Dai programme, being the core of all our coalition-building events, key member trainings and collaboration activities. But since #10yearsofChabDai is all about highlighting the projects and people who have been fundamental to our vision, it seemed like a good opportunity to check in with the LC and its current Project Manager, Um Sam Ol. 

Sam Ol started at Chab Dai as a Media and Communications intern in 2010 and, five years later, oversees the member application process, the resource library and our bi-annual member meetings, as well as key trainings for our member NGOs.

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How will the ASEAN Economic Community impact Cambodia?

The end of 2015 is set to be the launch of the new single market in Southeast Asia, otherwise known as the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Ten countries in the region, including Cambodia, are expected to benefit from “the free flow of goods, services, investments, and skilled labor, and the freer movement of capital across the region.” (Nay Pyi Taw Declaration, May 2014)

But with the construction of the Greater Mekong Sub-Region’s special economic zones also coming to a close in the next twelve months, what are the implications for migration in the area, and how will this affect Cambodia?

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Coordinating our efforts against forced marriage in China

Every year, many Cambodian women are being sold a dream. It’s a dream of a better life in China: a rich husband, a comfortable office job, a world away from their provincial, and often poor, villages. In reality, brokers are working on both sides of the border to sell these women into marriages they find are far below their expectations, and into a life in rural China strikingly similar to the one they were trying to escape.

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Bridging the Gap

Chab Dai's long time staff member and Chab Dai USA co-founder, Tania DoCarmo, is highlighted by University of California Irvine's School of Social Sciences for her experience in both academia and activism against human trafficking. 

For first year grad student Tania DoCarmo, the path to a Ph.D. has been anything but conventional. However, what her journey lacks in predictability, it makes up for in travels abroad, human rights work and practical, first-hand knowledge of human trafficking—her primary research interest.


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Training the next generation of Cambodian social workers

It’s been three years since the first cohort of Social Work majors in Cambodia graduated from university, fulfilling a very real need in providing human trafficking and abuse survivors with expert care and support. With this in mind, we thought it was time we checked in with our Jeut Nung Dai social work training team here at Chab Dai.

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