Stopping Slavery before it Starts – A Story from Cambodia

Human trafficking continues to flourish today in 167 countries – that’s 85 percent of the world. Every day, women, men and children of all ages and nationalities are captured and forced to work on farms, in factories, in hotels or in the commercial sex trade – generating billions of dollars of revenue each year. But the worldwide church has stepped into the fight against this gross injustice. World Relief stands with local churches in Cambodia and the United States and empowers them to protect their communities from human traffickers. Cambodia’s bustling capital city, Phnom Penh, is a hot spot for slavery and trafficking – but across Cambodia, there’s a growing movement of churches standing with their communities to end slavery. In 2014, over 400 Cambodian churches worked together to spread awareness about human trafficking. This crime flourishes in darkness, but when it’s brought into the light, perpetrators begin to lose their power.

Yim Srey Oun in Cambodia
Yim Srey Oun in Cambodia

Yim Srey Oun, a farmer and mother of three, lives just outside Phnom Penh. As a busy mom, she counted on her family to work together to finish the ever-growing list of chores. “My husband and I always encouraged our children to study and we worked hard to support them. However, many times we would need their help to do other work in the farm but I never had thought of letting my children have enough time to study at home,” said Oun.

Then, last year, she attended a human trafficking training session through World Relief. She learned she could love her children by allowing them more time to devote to their studies. Their education is an investment in the security of their future – and it could protect the children from situations in which they’d be vulnerable to traffickers.

“I hope the anti-trafficking project of World Relief will continue to help and train the rest of the parents in my community...Moreover, I am looking forward to seeing fruitful cooperation and more efficient and effective implementation to prevent human trafficking in our country and stand for vulnerable people who live in our community as well,” said Oun. Pastors, youth volunteers and village leaders are spreading awareness about human trafficking far and wide across Cambodia.

Until all are free, the church will stand strong in the pursuit of justice.