Thursday, November 10, 2011

Made by Survivors

Made by Survivors is a project and business that employes survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking. Their mission includes: improving the lives of slavery survivors through economic empowerment and education, assisting rescue shelters by using job programs, improving rehabilitation and reintegration, giving survivors the tools to rebuild their own safe and slavery-free lives, raising awareness about slavery and engage people to action, and preventing trafficking among high risk communities such as red light districts and refugee camps.

Made by Survivors provides survivors with economic empowerment and a sense of worthy, which is especially important due to the ostracization many face in their communities.  Below is Srey's story from Made by Survivors.

Srey’s life got off to a rough start. Her family was so poor, they feared for their childrens’ survival.  When their mother died, Srey and her younger sister (aged 11 and 8) were sold for $150 each to a brothel in Phnom Penh. Srey does not like to speak of this dark time. Thankfully the girls were rescued and sent to an AFESIP orphanage, where they were able to enjoy a normal childhood and attend school.

Eventually, Srey chose to train in the tailoring program. She joined AFESIP Fair Fashion at the age of 18, and went on to become a team captain. Srey is incredibly committed to her work – she often chooses to work even during break times, and takes a personal stake in the quality of each and every order.

When AFESIP Fair Fashion first moved into the rural village of Kompong Cham, the community was generally appalled and unwelcoming.  ‘We don’t want those bad girls!’ people said.  The village members feared that Srey and the other survivors would spread AIDS or low moral conduct in the community.  It is very common for survivors to be blamed and stigmatized for what was done to them, especially if they were trafficked for sexual exploitation.

However, in Cambodian culture, a woman who earns is respected. As some of the highest wage earners in the village, and with their gracious smiles and professional behavior, Srey and the other survivors soon won over the village headman and the entire community.Srey met and married a young man from the community, so production was interrupted for a giant wedding. When I last visited the workshop, she was expecting her first child.

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