Pros (not his real name) is a successful entrepreneur who sells groceries in front of his home in the Uddar Meanchey province of Cambodia, and earns additional income to support his six children by pumping water for villagers and raising crops and livestock. He’s come a long way toward achieving his hopes of providing a better life for his family.
In 2010, Pros illegally migrated to Thailand in search of work, but he could not find a job. A taxi driver told him about jobs paying $20 a day in the fishing industry. He was hooked, and spent three years working on a fishing boat without pay.
Like others trafficked into forced labor, he worked seemingly endless hours with only three to five hours rest per day. In April 2013, his vessel was apprehended thousands of miles from Thailand off the coast of Madagascar and all crew members were taken into custody. With help from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), he was able to return to Cambodia.
The Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, a Counter Trafficking in Persons program partner, provided counseling and helped him reintegrate into his community. Pros received a life start-up grant to cover basic needs, assistance in identifying income opportunities and creating a business plan for the sale of groceries. With a small business grant, he started a small grocery store. In addition to his income from grocery sales, he earns extra money by drying cassava as a seasonal job and has been able to send his children to school. Through hard work and diversified employment, his family now earns about $230 monthly. Pros has leased land to raise more crops and livestock and built a new house.
It’s important to Pros that he gives back to his community. He has no plans to migrate again and is raising awareness among his neighbors about the dangers of trafficking. “My family’s living standard is much better since I was reintegrated into my community thanks to [the support I received].”
The Counter Trafficking in Persons program, a four-year project funded by USAID and implemented by Winrock International, is dedicated to giving trafficking survivors the help they need to reintegrate into society. It offers counseling and self-help groups, training and job placement services, business planning support, and small grants.