Phnom Penh, Cambodia
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. “
From 1975-1979, Cambodia suffered the horrors of a mass genocide inflicted by the Khmer Rouge. Under dictator Pol Pot, the regime set out to control the country through a radical social reform policy with a goal of creating a pure agrarian communist society. In an attempt to break the spirit of independence and development for the nation, the family unit, education, progression, and religion were targeted. Individuals and systems that looked favorably upon free markets and capitalism were labeled traitors, brutally tortured and killed in a genocide that claimed an estimated 2 million lives.
Only 30 years later, the country still endures the effects of what has been called one of the cruelest regimes of the 20th century. Individuals who survived with their life had to survive without family members, education, and financial security. Resulting post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and poverty impacted the culture severely as corruption and crime continue to plague the country seeking recovery. Sadly, Cambodia has drawn international concern for its growing sex trafficking industry that particularly threatens under-aged girls.
The US State Department’s 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report identifies Cambodia as a major source, transit, and destination country for child sex trafficking. A UNICEF survey estimates that there are 55,000 young women and girls currently trapped in sexual slavery in Cambodia with 35% under the age of 16, and as young as the age of an infant.
In 2005, New Song Centre opened to provide long-term aftercare for under-aged girls rescued from trafficking. In this residential holistic treatment program, physical, psychological, educational, vocational, and spiritual needs are addressed through a personalized program and fully trained staff. A high security facility, New Song offers safety for victims involved in high profile cases. Working together with organizations like International Justice Mission (IJM), New Song Centre is a referral home for girls rescued by law enforcement advocates and agencies. The rehabilitation process utilizes professional counseling to address the various forms of severe abuse. A staff of nine counselors provides bi-weekly one-on-one sessions with each young girl and establish a long-term counseling program specific to her needs. For these victims, trauma has been severe and art therapy provides an essential tool to facilitate communication. Trained personnel are able to use critical techniques to empower each girl to tell her story in a safe environment and communicate her needs to work through a healing process and toward recovery.
Wellspring International works together with the Ratanak Foundation based in Vancouver, British Columbia, to provide our grant to New Song Centre. Founded in 1996 by Brian McConaghy, a forensic scientist with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ratanak Foundation serves the people of Cambodia by partnering with like-minded organizations to provide healthcare, shelter, literacy, and agricultural development.
Wellspring International is committed to providing $30,192 USD this year for weekly professional therapy sessions at New Song Centre for 34 under-aged girls rescued from sex slavery in the brothels of Cambodia and to help with counseling costs for girls that have graduated from New Song.
Please contact us for more information concerning this significant project.