Child trafficking is an unfortunate reality across Cambodia, and especially in areas, like Battambang, near the Thai border. Families struggling to make ends meet are often coerced into selling their children into modern-day slavery, involving manual labor and sex-work.
One of Children’s Future’s students, a 12 year-old girl named Sela, fell victim to this unsettling practice.
The family’s loan shark had been threatening to collect on their $300 debt. In desperation, Sela’s caretakers believed that entrusting their daughters to the loan shark was the only solution for paying off the family’s debt.
Sela was forced to stop school and smuggled across the Thai border where she worked illegally for two years, doing manual labor in an unregulated manufacturing facility. When Children’s Future social workers heard of Sela’s story, they were fortunately able to locate her and negotiate her return with the family.
Sela now lives with her younger sister and friend in a sibling-headed household. She attends school while her parents work to pay off their debt in Thailand. Children’s Future ensures that they have enough to eat and that the parents contribute as much to the girl’s needs as they can.
Today, Sela is the top of her class and thriving in her new environment.
**Name and photo changed to protect student’s identity**