Here’s Why You Should Care About Cambodia’s Underprivileged Youth People of Interest

An all-female cycling team recently undertook a gruelling 4-day cycling trip through Siem Reap to raise funds for Sala Baï, a hotel and restaurant training school for underprivileged youth in Cambodia. Here’s why it should matter to you. 

Women On A Mission was founded by three women – Karine Moge, Valerie Boffy, and Christine Amour-Levar. Having been blessed with privileged lives, the trio believe they have the responsibility to make a difference in the lives of women who are deprived of the most basic freedom – the right to live in peace and happiness with their loved ones, the right to education and self accomplishment, the right to live with respect and decency, and the right to dream. Together, they organise various expeditions to raise awareness for causes around the world. In April 2016, they formed a team of 14 women in support of Sala Baï in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Amour-Levar tells us more, below:

Q: Why Sala Baï?

“WOAM’s mission is to champion to cause of underprivileged and abused women and girls, and shine more light on the tireless work that organisations such as Sala Baï do to empower women and stop human trafficking in its tracks. We met some of the supporters of Sala Baï in Singapore a few months ago and realised this was exactly the type of school we wanted to support.

Set up in 2002 by the French NGO ‘Agir pour le Cambodge, ’ Sala Baï trains more than 100 students per year, 70 percent of whom are women between the ages 17 and 23. As of today, the school has delivered unparalleled results: in 13 years, over 1, 300 students graduated, and 100 percent were employed within four weeks after graduation. Earning, on average, three times their monthly household income post graduation, the lives of these young adults and their families are changed forever.”

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Sala Baï, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Q: There are so many causes out there that require our time and money. What are some reasons for people to support WOAM’s mission to champion underprivileged Cambodian youth?

“Cambodia is a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. The traffickers are reportedly organised crime syndicates, parents, relatives, friends, intimate partners, and neighbours. A UNICEF survey concluded that 35 percent of Cambodia’s 15, 000 prostitutes are children under the age of 16. Children are trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labour in organised begging rings, soliciting, and street vending. Women are trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labour in factories or as domestic servants. As one of the closest neighbouring countries to Singapore, we feel it is our duty to help this these young Cambodians in any way we can.

Ultimately, WOAM aims to continue to encourage society to sit up and pay attention to grave issues, such as violence against women and human trafficking, in particular, and work towards improving the condition of women and children in Asia.

Worldwide, over two million women and girls are trafficked annually. 27 percent of all trafficking victims are children and the flow from Asia remains the most prominent. The numbers are appalling and our team passionately feels this reality can no longer be tolerated.”

Q: As much as we want to help, sometimes these problems seem so far removed from our everyday life. What do you have to say to drive the message closer to home?

“Ultimately, we believe that when women come together and are passionate about a cause, extraordinary things can happen. What Sala Baï is doing, in terms of offering these young Cambodians a better life, is truly admirable. Education has been proven to be one of the most efficient ways to stop human trafficking before it starts.”

The team in Siem Reap,  April 2016

The team in Siem Reap, April 2016

Q: What are some ways people can help support this mission? 

“The best way to support this mission is to donate to Sala Baï directly via the fundraising page we’ve set up. Your donation will help the school increase its programme from 100 to 150 students per year by the end of 2018, and will also contribute to paying for new accommodations for all the students. Thank you for supporting the school and fighting poverty and human trafficking at the root of the cause!”

To donate to Sala Baï , please click here.

For as long as she can remember, Vanessa has always wanted to escape to a place where no one knows her. But because that’s not always possible, she often retreats into the world of books and pop culture. When she does get to travel, she prefers going off the beaten track and back to nature. Some of her best memories include napping in a treehouse in Laos and cycling across padi fields in Bali.

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