“Thanks for doing this interview, Chantrea. It can’t be easy for you.” They were sitting by the lake just steps from the organization where the Cambodian woman worked as a social worker.
Chantrea smiled slightly. She had sad eyes and although she was in her late thirties, she looked much older which wasn’t surprising, considering the kind of life she once had. “I don’t want to do what’s easy for me,” she said. “I will do whatever is necessary to help the children.”
“What’s your story?”
“I was eleven when my father put me in an orphanage because they promised him that I would receive a good education and opportunities for the future. Instead, I was beaten, raped, starved and forced to work on the orphanage director’s rice paddies and farms without pay.
“And now you’ve dedicated your life to fighting such institutions.”
“Yes. I’m fighting to prevent the separation of vulnerable children from their families and orphanages that attract funding, volunteers and donations from well-meaning tourists.”
“What’s your biggest goal?”
“Shutting down these orphanages.”
This story is inspired by true stories of children who are taken from their families and homes and placed in orphanages “where they may be exploited, even abused, malnourished, forced to work, and sometimes trafficked to other orphanages and forms of exploitation in order to repeat the cycle and elicit further funding.”