The children of Cambodia by Lara Dowd.

“Whatever it takes for as long as it takes to restore a broken life!”

 I have just returned from Cambodia where I did a four day Justice Tour of an international organisation called HAGAR.  HAGAR is dedicated to the recovery of women and children (girls and boys and women) who have survived extreme human rights abuse as a result of human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual exploitation.  Human trafficking for sexual exploitation and slave labour is the second largest illegal market in the world following the drug trade.  It is growing each year and at present it is estimated that there are 246 million child labourers in the world, 73 million of whom are under 10 years of age – 127 million are in the Asia-Pacific region.  The total annual revenue is estimated at $32 billion – the average price of a human being is $90.

 Cambodia is a nation that had the world turn it’s back on them whilst Pol Pot’s regime committed indescribable atrocities including the genocide of every educated person in the nation.  They were left a traumatised population that studies have shown have since passed Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome down to the following generations.  This has gone unacknowledged and untreated and has been an enormous factor in their inability to prosper and in turn has fuelled a cycle of poverty and corruption that has made them an easy target.  I know the enormity of it all seems unsurmountable but I saw the difference HAGAR and other NGO’s in Cambodia are making.  Promoting development, stability and prosperity in Cambodia is of humanitarian and practical interest to Australia – a more stable, prosperous Cambodia will contribute to regional economic growth and assist in fighting transnational crime including terrorism and illegal narcotics.

 HAGAR has developed recovery centres for boys and girls, a catch up school and most importantly a counselling rhetoric that really does give the traumatised victims that are aged from five years old to 25 years old a chance of recovery.  HAGAR owns or is affiliated with 42 businesses including Phnom Penh’s largest catering company so that they can follow up recovery with a future.  Their motto is “Whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to restore a broken life”. 

 If you want to know more about HAGAR please check out their websitewww.hagar.org.au or contact Tess.Horsley@hagar.org.au