Free From Fear Campaign

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Featured story of the week:

Trafficked and Trapped – Sophea

Each week, we take a look at different issues that continue to plague these children. These accounts are based on interviews with survivors from our communities. Names have been changed to protect the identity of the survivors. Assistance has been rendered and the survivors are now doing well. 

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HOW DO WE PROVIDE ASSISTANCE?

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My name is Ichin and I live in Mongolia. As far as I could remember, home had been my hell since I was 4 years old.

Pa was an abusive alcoholic. Whenever I hear his heavy footsteps, I would hide under the bed to avoid the painful scene of him beating Ma again. Pa always swore at Ma and hit her when he was angry. Once, he smashed a vodka bottle on her head and Ma was bleeding so heavily. I was crying and begging for Pa to stop. I thought Ma was going to die.The violence continued for years. Pa remained unemployed and sold things in the house to buy alcohol. I hated being home. I was afraid that Pa would hit me if I were to breathe a word to others. I was also ashamed of what my friends would think of my family. I had no one to turn to. I wished someone could stop this chaos at home.

The day finally came. After 20 years, Pa quit drinking. World Vision stepped into our community and started advocacy campaigns, dialogues and counselling to tackle alcoholism and its devastating effects on the family. He said that he wanted to turn over a new leaf and he did. Pa started working again and we enjoy eating together. Even though I still feel scared whenever I think of the past, I’m happy now with the change.

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My family and I work at the brick factory. Every day, I dig the mud, separate the grinds and make them into fine particles. I then prepare a liquid mixture to make the raw bricks. When the bricks are done, I load them onto a trolley and pile them up again at a corner. But my job is still not done. I have to count the bricks otherwise the owner won’t pay me.Sometimes I get hurt at work. The bricks are really heavy. I’m afraid they would crush my feet. The shovel can also fall on my leg and cut my hand. While arranging the bricks, my fingers can get jammed between the bricks and it hurts a lot. I don’t like being here but with this job, I can earn 35 cents a day to help my family.

I know that it hurts Ma when we have to work at the factory. Once, I saw her tearing when we woke up at midnight to go to work. But we don’t have a choice. Ma told us that if we didn’t work, what would we eat?

I look forward to days when there is not much work at the brick factory because I get to go to school. World Vision has enrolled me in school and I’m in 3rd grade. I like to go to school. I believe that I can be an engineer if I study well. I hope to get a good job so we don’t have to make bricks anymore.

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I’m 16 years old and I’m pregnant for the third time. I often feel pain in my lower abdomen. The doctor told me that the pain was due to frequent and early pregnancies. But I can’t take a rest. I have to work as hard or even more than the other women in the family otherwise I get tortured and humiliated.My life took a turn five years ago. On the way back from school, I heard my neighbours gossiping about my wedding. I could not understand what was going to happen to me. I was only 11 years old.My father had arranged a marriage for me with my 19-year old cousin. We had to pay a hefty dowry even though we were family. My parents thought that my life would improve with this marriage but they were wrong.Three days after my wedding day, I had to sleep with my husband. I was so afraid… I cried a lot. I tried to flee and even begged him. But he caught me and hit me. Those nights were terrifying and painful. I can’t even begin to express the horror. I was so frightened of his touch.

Then when I was 13, I gave birth to my first baby at home by an untrained midwife. That pregnancy damaged my body. I was pregnant again a year later and suffered a miscarriage. I had to stay in hospital for a week. My body is still very weak.I don’t know how my life can change for the better. My only wish is to turn back time and return to my family.

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World Vision launches campaigns to educate communities about the dangers of early marriage and early pregnancies. To ensure women are able to have safe child births, World Vision is also working alongside traditional midwives to provide them with training to improve their skills.
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I was sold into prostitution by someone I’d thought I could trust. I first met her when I was 14. She was my boyfriend’s mother. She said that she knew of a job in Siem Reap that paid $100 a month. That was a significant sum that could help my family so I agreed.

The day came for me to leave. It was late so we headed to a guest house in another province for the night. But she told me that I had to sleep with the driver as payment to Siem Reap. I didn’t even have a chance to say no. He entered my room and forced himself on me. Later that night, another man came in…

This continued for three days. I wanted to run away but I had no money and my family was too far away.

The next day, she left me in the hands of a brothel owner. She told me that she will arrange a marriage between me and her son and told me to wait for a month. She lied. She never came back.Life was unbearable. Whenever I resisted, they would beat me up and feed me drugs. Then I was told that I would have to pay for the drugs that they had given me. This went on for almost a year. I never received any money, only drugs.

One day, I finally escaped the brothel to make a phone call to my grandmother. She called the police and I was rescued.

I’ve never felt so safe in a long while. In this shelter, nobody harms me. I can learn to read and write properly, and learn new skills like hairdressing to start a new life. The first thing I’ll do when I leave here is to return to my family. I miss them a lot.

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World Vision removes vulnerable children from exploitative and dangerous situations, and provides them with food, shelter and education. We also provide psychosocial care and development support, including life skills and vocational training.
Influence Governments
To make systemic changes, we’re educating local leaders, teachers and health workers on child rights and child protection, as well as empowering communities to advocate to their government for improvements in the child protection services they deserve.

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Tackle Causes of Abuse
We don’t just free/rescue children from dangerous situations; we work to counteract the causes of abuse, trafficking and forced marriage, such as poverty and social stigma. Because extreme financial hardship can make parents more susceptible to traffickers’ ploys, we connect vulnerable families to income generation support, and encourage birth registration to legally establish a child’s existence and ensure they have access to school and benefits.

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Catalyse Faith Leaders to Change Culture
As part of World Vision’s community mobilization and transformational approach, we train and equip faith leaders and other community members to respond to core issues affecting their communities—such as maternal and child health, gender equity, gender-based violence, and child protection.

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Educate and Empower Children
Our desire is for families to be the first line of protection and care for children by equipping parents with positive parenting skills. We do this by creating social networks through home visits from volunteers to support vulnerable children and families, equipping faith communities to provide family-strengthening retreats, and engaging men in small groups to help husbands and fathers take the lead in combating violence against children. In addition, we help vulnerable families get access to social services and neighbourhood support systems.

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Provide Rehabilitation Services and Support
No matter how many children we lift out of dangerous situations, if the resultant traumas are not addressed they can lead to prolonged problems. Together with the community, we provide emergency shelter and care to exploited children, and provide therapeutic counselling, catch-up learning and skills training.

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