Mani Tese has been active in Cambodia since 2008 to protect children who have been victims of trafficking. Here it works with the Damnok Toek association which, since 2001, has welcomed children to give them back their smiles and reintegrate them into families and society.
Damnok Toek periodically sends us stories and testimonies and the latest is that of Dara*, a 13-year-old boy, welcomed by the association after being arrested in Thailand because he was found begging on the streets.
Dara comes from the province of Kampong Cham, just north of Phnom Penh (capital of Cambodia), and suffers from a physical disability. Unfortunately, in Cambodia, people with disabilities are often discriminated against by society and in some cases are even abandoned by their parents.
This fact is obviously exploited by traffickers, as children with disabilities can earn more by asking for alms. Many of them are then taken to the city of Poipet, on the border with Thailand, where the flourishing cross-border trade offers many business opportunities, but also of illicit trafficking.
Dara is one of the victims of trafficking in Cambodia and, as anticipated, was welcomed by Damnok Toek after his arrest in Thailand. Arriving at the reception center, Dara was initially afraid, he didn’t want to eat or talk to anyone and cried often. Until that time, he had never gone to school nor had he probably received parental affection.
Once he got used to the new environment, however, Dara flourished: he reads books, participates voluntarily in recreational activities and plays with his friends. At the reception center he is provided with three meals a day, medical checks, education, meditation activities and exercise.
“I really appreciate Damnok Toek – says Dara – I feel safe, they take care of me and teach me so many things. Health workers provide great care to all children in the shelter. I am very grateful! ”
When he grows up, Dara wishes to have a good job and be able to return to his family. There he hopes to have land where he can build a house and run his own farm.
*Dara is an invented name to protect the privacy of the child.
Here are some photos from the Damnok Toek reception center: