Tha* is a girl from the Pursat province of Cambodia. After the separation from her husband, Tha’s mother decided to migrate to Thailand, with the help of an intermediary, and the little girl ended up begging on the street.

Tha’s mother knew that her intermediary forced her to beg, but she always refused to go to the police to report him in order not to be taken back to Cambodia. Later, Tha’s mother remarried another man and no longer cared about her daughter.

“I was very afraid – Tha later told us – I didn’t want to live and work in Thailand anymore, but my mother didn’t listen to me. So I tried to find another job and I talked about my situation to the people, who then reported everything to the police”.

In December 2019, Tha was identified by the Thai immigration police and sent to a center for boys and girls called Banbratakan, where she remained before being brought back to Cambodia. Once she arrived in her country of origin, she was directed through the Poipet Transit Center to the Damnok Toek reception center, supported by Mani Tese.

“At first – Damnok Toek operators tell us – Tha she was very frightened and she did not want to talk to the other children or to the staff of the center. Then it emerged that the little girl was ashamed of having been abandoned by her mother and exploited by intermediaries”.

Since she has lived in Damnok Toek’s shelter, however, she has gradually reborn and has been able to study and learn Khmer, the Cambodian language. She is very happy with her new life and of being able to learn new disciplines, such as meditation, dance, crafts and drawing. She also receives counseling and assistance support from the reception center team.

Tha finally smiles and tells us: “I’m no longer afraid, everyone here has helped me. I want to study hard to be able to have my own business, maybe a small shop, I think I can do it. In the future, if I have the opportunity, I hope to be able to support other vulnerable children like me. I don’t want them to drop out of school and be exploited”.

* Tha is an invented name to protect the privacy of the child.

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