I am a finalist with the opportunity to win a grant (based on a public vote) that would provide scholarships for vocational training to rescued Cambodian girls. Empower girls to start a new life free from exploitation!
Go to the link below and VOTE for me (Wendy Swanson) once every 24 hours through October 9, and spread the word! Thanks!http://www.takepart.com/thebestexoticmarigoldhotel/voting/august
Why? When I walked in to the safe house in Cambodia for girls that were rescued from sex trafficking, I was anticipating seeing sad, broken, depressed girls. Instead these girls were giggling and smiling with excitement about their upcoming graduation and the future that awaited them. Having successfully completed the reintegration program, they were filled with confidence and renewed self-esteem. Instead of living in the nightmare of their past as victims, they were celebrating their future as survivors. They knew they were the lucky ones that had been given a second chance.
While traveling in Cambodia, I witnessed the shocking reality of women and children exploited through sex trafficking – a reality far worse than I ever imagined. Although there are organizations that focus on rescuing and healing victim’s emotional trauma, few have the resources to also offer vocational training. Without the skills to support themselves, they are vulnerable to being exploited again. My visit to a safe house for girls underscored this dilemma, and inspired me to partner with a local nonprofit in Phnom Penh to offer scholarships for vocational training to graduates of their program.
According to the United Nations, an estimated 2.5 million people are victims of human trafficking, with over half in Asia. Phnom Penh, Cambodia is considered a major hub for commercial sexual exploitation, with victims also trafficked from surrounding countries. Extreme poverty, coupled with a lack of education and limited job opportunities, has made young girls in this region particularly vulnerable. Creating opportunities for them to pursue legitimate jobs and careers is the key to breaking the cycle of abuse, degradation and exploitation. By providing scholarships for training, these young women will be empowered to create new lives for themselves.