The first objective of the reception center managed by Damnok Toek in Poipet (Cambodia) is to reintegrate children victims of trafficking into their families of origin.
Children remain at the center until they reach the age of majority only when they run the risk of being trafficked again or when relatives cannot be traced. The center is a safe and secure place where they can grow up, receive medical and psychological assistance, attend school and many courses such as English, sports, IT and art therapy.
Mani Tese has supported Damnok Toek’s activities since 2008. Thanks to the “Safe Children” project, in the first half of 2019 27 children were welcomed and, of these, 8 have already been reintegrated into their families of origin.
Sok Vin (invented name to protect the child’s privacy) was born in Poipet in 2002. His mother was a seamstress and his father was a bricklayer. When Sok was four, his parents separated and the little boy and mother went to live with his maternal grandmother.
Without the father’s income, the family’s economic situation worsened. Sok’s mother decided to move to Thailand, hoping to build a better future for her and her son. They could not afford to legally migrate due to the high cost of documentation, but they also could not migrate illegally as the fees requested by traffickers were too high for them. After extensive research, Sok’s mother found an intermediary who agreed to grant her a loan.
Once she arrived in Thailand, however, the family’s economic situation did not improve. Although Sok’s mother managed to earn money from her work as a seamstress, the debts remained to be repaid to the intermediary and some money had to be sent to the grandmother who remained in Cambodia. For the mother there was no alternative but to ask her son to beg on the street.
At that time Sok was about six years old. Every day he begged from dawn until late at night to take home about 200/300 bath, the equivalent of 5/8 euros. Sok and his mother lived in a rented room with no access to health services. Despite his mother’s best efforts, Sok was unable to eat a full meal a day, which resulted in significant delays in his physical and mental development. Furthermore, being an illegal migrant, Sok could not have access to school like all children of his age.
In 2016 Sok was arrested by the Thai police and sent to a juvenile detention center where he spent a few months before being repatriated to Poipet. The intervention of Damnok Toek’s social workers was invaluable. Thanks to their research they discovered that Sok was originally from Poipet and that some relatives still resided in the city. Sok was then transferred to the reception center run by Damnok Toek and involved in the activities that take place daily: art therapy sessions, sports, computer and English courses and, of course, school courses.
During his stay in the Center, Sok expressed the desire to return to live with his family and the social workers of Damnok Toek immediately mobilized in the search for relatives. After some time, the grandmother and aunt who still lived in Poipet were tracked down. The social workers worked hard to understand how and when Sok could be reintegrated into the family unit, ensuring that the child did not run the risk of being trafficked again and forced to work.
After two years spent in the reception center, in April 2019, Sok was reintegrated into his family. Thanks to the support of Damnok Toek, who still continues, he is still attending school. As an adult, Sok would like to open his own business and become a trader.