New Future for a Single Mum

This story is typical of many that our teams encounter. Circumstances, often financial, forcing people into difficult and dangerous situations which many then feel trapped in.

There are other options, however – read on and find out how one woman and her daughter have moved on in their lives with the help of our ChildSafe Agents and our social workers…. this is Ut’s story…

When 36-year-old Ut* arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2017, her goal was to secure a job to help support her family back in the provinces. Thanks to a friend recommending her to a local restaurant owner, she started work as a waitress, however, the pay was very low – $2 to $2.5 per night.

Fast forward two years, and a friend suggested that Ut become an entertainment worker to boost her income. She took a job at a local hostess bar, where she had to drink excessively and unfortunately regularly faced harassment and abuse from customers. During this time, she was in a relationship and had a daughter. However, her partner left her, leaving her to shoulder all the expenses as a single mother. To make matters worse, she had to leave her child with a neighbor while she worked in the bar.

An Agent Intervenes

Fortunately, a ChildSafe Agent who was working in the area came across Ut and had a conversation with her about the challenges she was facing. Ut sought support from the ChildSafe Agent, who in turn informed staff at Mith Samlanh, the Friends program based in Phnom Penh. The Mith Samlanh team promptly assessed Ut’s family situation. They provided her with emergency support, including food packages, assistance with her room rental, and powdered milk for her child. They also assigned her a case manager who worked closely with her alongside the team to offer counseling and support in planning for her future. The Mith Samlanh team also operate Nightbus services in hotspot areas in the city, offering mobile support for entertainment and other workers who are primarily working at night – this includes health and medical support, sexual health and harm reduction services, counseling and even finding safe creche facilities for the children of night workers. Establishing trust through this service provision means that many of the clients of the Nightbus will consider other life choices following interactions with the Mith Samlanh team.

Next Steps

In Ut’s case, she talked about her wish to start a small tailoring business from home so that she could earn an income while taking care of her daughter and be away from the dangers of entertainment work. The team at Mith Samlanh found a nearby fashion sewing shop looking for trainees. After ensuring that Ut could bring her daughter along to training classes, they enrolled her and covered her training fees. Three months later, training completed, Ut was recruited by the shop owner on a monthly salary of $190.

A New Beginning

With the ongoing support and guidance of her dedicated case manager, she was able, in the next few months, to secure a small loan to purchase a sewing machine and other necessary equipment to start her own shop. The Mith Samlanh team also connected her with local suppliers. Now she had access to high-quality fabrics and materials for her business. As she started taking orders, producing beautifully crafted garments, word quickly spread about her talent and attention to detail. Ut’s small tailoring business started to thrive, providing her not only with a stable income, but also a sense of real pride and accomplishment.

Following the timely intervention of the ChildSafe Agent, and the temporary support from Mith Samlanh, things are much better for Ut. She is now in a much safer place, has an income of around 400$ per month, is very happy with her life, and is able to fully support herself and her young daughter.

Many people, mostly women, have taken the option of often risky and dangerous work in the entertainment sector, particularly following the economic devastation within already disadvantaged communities caused by the Covid pandemic. Our ChildSafe Agents and teams work day and night to provide life-saving services to this group, and to support them in finding viable alternatives to this work.

Support the efforts of our #everydayheroes – donate here

*name changed

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *