Empowering survivors as part of the solution

Survivor Empowerment: Voices For Change

 

VFC Smiles

VFC leaders Srey An, Theara, and Sina M.

Modeled after Somaly’s life example, SMF’s Voices For Change (VFC) advocacy program prepares survivors of trafficking and exploitation to become catalysts of next-generation change in Cambodia. Through this program, we provide survivors with an opportunity to help themselves by helping others and to have their voices heard in the courts of law, in their communities, and worldwide, in order to move the needle on creating lasting cultural change.

The program is structured in three phases involving: psychological support, education and skills training, and advocacy practice. VFC leaders share their experience with government officials, police and law enforcement, students, and the general public. They also lead awareness and prevention efforts on the ground in Cambodia, using their intimate knowledge of trafficking to create targeted and effective messages, campaigns, and networks of leaders.

VFC leaders hold training sessions for law enforcement agents, government officials, and community members to recognize and properly address cases of human trafficking in an ongoing partnership with the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Great Mekong Sub-Region (UNIAP). First-hand accounts of the horrors of life as a sex slave serve as a wake-up call to those in the legal profession who have pledged themselves to the cause of justice. These trainings have reached officers from all 24 of Cambodia’s provinces.

In addition, VFC leaders pursue both formal and informal education to supplement their training in the anti-trafficking movement and in general development. All VFC leaders take courses in Khmer, English, and computer literacy, in addition to life skills, leadership, human rights law, advocacy and anti-trafficking policy, public speaking, and leadership skills. They also receive psychological support and opportunities for internships and externships.

2013 Survivor Empowerment Impact Highlights

  • There are currently 18 women participating in the Voices For Change program, five of which joined the program in 2013.
  • Seven VFC leaders pursued university studies in programs for law, psychology, nursing, accounting, finance, and English literacy.
  • Four VFC leaders worked directly with AFESIP to support victims and survivors. Respectively they served as a social outreach worker, a receptionist, a counseling intern, and a job placement intern. A fifth VFC leader owns and operates her own hair salon where she trains and employs survivors of slavery and at-risk women. A sixth leader is currently working in the hospitality industry. The remaining five VFC leaders are currently working directly in the SMF office as full-time employees: as the VFC Education Manager, Cashier, National Advocacy Officer, and two Local Advocacy Officers. These positions support the VFC program and SMF’s efforts to eradicate slavery in Cambodia.
  • VFC leaders conducted three training sessions on anti-human trafficking law and legal proceedings to 40 high-ranking military police officers and 102 government officials from all 24 provinces in Cambodia.

Click to read more about how we work to eradicate slavery.