Trigger warning: Mentions sexual abuse and self harm

Today is the UN Day Against Trafficking in Persons and this year the focus is on the amazing, resilient, and inspiring workers who work on the frontlines to stop and prevent this terrible trade and stand beside it’s victims. Sreyna Sam is one of them. She was born in a refugee camp during the Cambodian war and has experienced discrimination and abuse. Her trauma has given her an incredible empathy for survivors of human trafficking. She is now the Operations Manager of Client Care for Tearfund's partner Hagar, Cambodia.

  She believes in doing whatever it takes for as long as it takes to restore a broken life.

Hagar-blog-Social-worker-Sreyna-2.jpg

Sreyna Sam, the Operations Manager of Client Care in Hagar, Cambodia.Photo credit: Hagar


 

1)      Tell us your most meaningful work story with a client who survived human trafficking?

"We met a twelve-year-old girl who was sold from a very young age by her grandmother for sex with foreigners. She was rescued and referred to Hagar’s service. Her grandmother was arrested and sent to jail. The little girl had to face her grandmother in court. Later, she died in the prison. It was very traumatic for the girl. She blamed herself and it took quite a while for her to co-operate with us during the healing process. She would sometimes try to run away and sometimes try and harm herself.

We’ve dealt with behaviour problems in survivors for years.  We have to be very calm and patient when working with survivors of human trafficking. We do that because we love them.

We didn’t give up on her and now, she has started her own family. I was invited to her wedding and I was so happy to join. She now works as a counsellor, helping girls who have experienced tough situations just like her".

 

2)    Describe Hagar's mission/what they do uniquely in the space of human trafficking? 

"Hagar’s mission is to help survivors heal and free them from trauma so they can live a productive life. Those who look after the survivors must have good self-care to enable them to help survivors achieve their goals. Healthy staff, healthy clients, healthy organisation.  We walk alongside clients beginning from the identification of a need for protection, to being able to stand restored, resilient, and confident. This journey is a step by step process, from ensuring the needs of a client are met, trauma healing through an assigned counsellor, family collaboration and support throughout the process and legal support to clients and families by our lawyer. The case manager will continue to follow up for one or two years before closing the case."

 

3)      What's the hardest part about the work/job? 

"Due to the lack of resources, we unfortunately don’t have the capacity we would like to serve more survivors. We sometimes have situations where we have to say no for providing our services for the survivors, but we try to connect them to our partners for service referral".


Hagar-blog-Social-worker-Sreyna.jpg
"We walk alongside clients beginning from the identification of a need for protection, to being able to stand restored, resilient, and confident" says Sreyna. Photo credit: Hagar

 

4)      What inspires you in the work? 

"I have committed my life to serving these vulnerable people helping them to heal and at the same time, I am healed from my own trauma. This work has changed me into  being a better mother of my three kids. It has also changed me so that I can help more people who have a similar background to me."
 

5)      What keeps you going when things get tough/main motivation? 

"I was born in a refugee camp during the Cambodian war after the Pol Pot regime.  I have experienced a tough life, discrimination, and abuse. Working with women, children and men who suffer from the impact of trauma resulting from human right abuses, trafficking, and slavery and helping them to feel valued and have a hope for their life is the greatest reward.

 Seeing my colleagues working hard together and supporting each other is what motivates me to continue the journey with them. I truly believe what I have been doing is a calling from God. He put this in my heart. I believe I am not going into the toughest situations alone. He is always there".

 

6)     What's one thing people should know (or) can do to make a difference in this space? 

Help us prevent this trafficking issue and protect the vulnerable people through our after-care services. Through:

  • Financial support (Tearfund directly supports the work of Hagar and you can too by  clicking here).
  • Skill/ technical support/ volunteering.
  • Please help to advocate or raise awareness about human trafficking.

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