Sokha and Makara are from Poipet in Cambodia. When they were just 14 and 15 years old, their mother was ill with a liver complaint. The family needed money to pay for drugs to treat her. They also hoped to buy some land to build a home. A man promised good jobs for the girls in nearby Thailand, and offered the family some money if they would let them go. Sokha and Makara were excited at the thought of being able to help the family with the money they earned. The reality turned out to be very different. The man was a trafficker. There were no ‘good jobs’ for the girls in Thailand. Sokha’s mother died within a year, and the family couldn’t afford to buy the land that they had dreamed of. Sokha, who is now 17, says, ‘I felt cheated. The traffickers used us for slave jobs, and while they earned lots of money, we only got enough to feed ourselves each day.’ She explains how she and Makara, 16, were given jobs selling fruit, but it did not pay enough.

So they were forced to work even harder and to do work that they didn’t enjoy. Sokha and Makara’s story has a happy ending because of the Cambodian Hope Organisation (CHO) that works with Tearfund, a relief and development agency. Sokha and Makara’s parents met with CHO and gave them photos to pass on to an organisation in Thailand that rescues trafficked girls from prostitution. The girls were found and rescued about a year after their ordeal started. Sokha says, ‘It’s good to be home. We are grateful to CHO who have brought us back to our home, provided us with counselling, taught us the skill of sewing, and brought us into the church.’ When asked what they hope for in the future, Sokha says she hopes to set up her own sewing business and employ and help girls in her situation. ‘We were scared all the time in Thailand,’ she says. ‘Now I’m happy, getting support, living with my family and free to work when I want.’