Sreypin* is a 15-year-old Cambodian girl and the fourth of eight siblings. After the death of her father, the girl’s mother remarried and arranged with an intermediary to take her sons and daughters to Thailand to work.
So Sreypin started working for a Thai family as a maid, cleaning the house and taking care of their dogs. She initially earned 4,000 Thai baths, equivalent to 107 euro per month, but half of her first salary was given to the intermediary. After a few months of work, Sreypin’s mother asked her employer for a loan and he reduced her salary to 3,000 baht per month, about 80 euro.
Sreypin says: “When my mother remarried, she no longer cared about me, she only asked for money. I was afraid when I was in Thailand and did not want to live or work there, but my mother did not help me. She had no idea how bad the working conditions were”.
At some point Sreypin’s employer started accusing her of stealing money and deliberately breaking valuables in the house. So, one day, he picked up Sreypin and took her to an unknown area, abandoning her in the middle of nowhere.
The young woman was very scared and remembers: “I didn’t know how to get home, I felt lost. At one point I saw a street vendor and asked her for help, but she called the Thai police. The police came and took me to a shelter for girls. I stayed there for two months before being taken back to Cambodia”.
Once in Cambodia, she was dropped off at the Poipet transit centre, at which point Damnok Toek, in cooperation with the local authorities, referred the young girl to the Damnok Toek reception centre where she still lives.
Now I am here at the shelter,” says Sreypin, “I can study Khmer (the Cambodian language) and learn new things. I am very happy at the centre because we have a house to stay in and what I learn is useful for life and makes me happy. We do meditation, dance, handicrafts, gardening, cooking, drawing and we can talk to the psychologist.
In the future, Sreypin dreams of becoming a seamstress or a farmer because she likes gardening and wants her fruit and vegetables to be grown naturally, without chemicals. Finally, she strongly wants other vulnerable children, like her, to be able to go to school and learn.
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*Sreypin is a fictitious name to protect the privacy of the child.