Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Sao Sary Foundation

In an earlier post, I wrote that by the time someone has been trafficked, we've already failed. The Sao Sary Foundation (SSF) of Cambodia aims to prevent trafficking before it occurs by protecting children from violence, exploitation, abuse and discrimination. On the most recent Trafficking In Persons Report, Cambodia was rated as a Tier Two Watch List Country, meaning that "Government of Cambodia does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these overall efforts, the government did not show evidence of progress in convicting and punishing human trafficking offenders – including complicit public officials – and protecting trafficking victims."

SSF works strategically to prevent trafficking in Cambodia by identifying children who are at high risk. For example, while SSF supports boys and girls, "
a special emphasis is placed on protecting girls older than ten years old, as statistics show that they represent the highest risk of being trafficked, primarily for sexual exploitation. Moreover, girls are the most likely to be deprived of the chance to attend school."

According to their website, SSF's mission is to achieve lasting improvements for children living in poverty in Cambodia's poorest communities, through a process that unites people across cultures and adds meaning and value to their lives by:
  • Enabling deprived children, their families and their communities to meet their basic needs and to increase their ability to participate in and benefit from their societies.
  • Inspiring deprived children, their families and their communities to socially and economically empower themselves to be agents of change in their own lives and for a more equitable world.
  • Preventing and responding to violence, exploitation and abuse against children- including commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, child labour and harmful traditional practices, such as female genital mutilation/cutting and child marriage.
SSF provides a variety of services under their Child Protection Program and Livelihood Program, including food security, safe-drinking water/sanitation, basic/emergency needs assistance, and a range of educational programs. One particularly exciting progam is Together for Rights, which works to "mobilize young Cambodian people at-high risk for being trafficked that are under care by the Sao Sary Foundation to become human rights activists."

Unfortunately, according to Vichetr Uon, Executive Director and Founder of SSF, "
Sao Sary Foundation is facing an immediate crisis - due to lack of timely funding we may have to terminate our Child Protection Program which currently assists 50 vulnerable children in care ranging from room and board, medical care, education, and vocational skills training. Our program affords them the opportunity to be children and not have to worry about the burdens of finding work to support their families. Such desperation makes them vulnerable to being trafficked."

Click here to donate. Click here for information about volunteer opportunities. Click here for in-kind donations information.

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