A Village Chief’s brave decision changes a life.


We have the most wonderful story to share with you! Actually, it is an exciting update to the story of Sophea we shared with you a few weeks ago.

You may remember that Sophea was sold by her father when she was four years old, then kept in slavery and severely abused by a family for many years. After many unsuccessful attempts to escape, Sophea finally took a bicycle and rode as fast as she could until she was stopped by some people who were concerned about such a young girl riding alone in the dark.

Those people took Sophea to the village chief, who provided protection to Sophea, allowing her to stay in his home for a couple of months until he referred her to Hagar’s care.

That was 12 years ago and Sophea has not seen the village chief since that time. But guess what? We managed to track him down!

Chhun Ngonn is an inspirational man and we were so moved by his account of taking Sophea into his home all those years ago, we just had to share it with you.

He told us:
“We took her in and had to keep her safe. She was very afraid and it was clear to me that she had been mistreated… She would run and hide in our house and it took a while for my wife and I to earn her trust. She was anxious and any sound would make her afraid. The poor girl had never been shown any love. She would run and hide under the table. It was like the reaction of a girl who had received such terrible violence against her.”

Chhun Ngonn found out that, in the community where Sophea had been kept in slavery, everyone referred to her “as ’the ugly worthless child’. No-one knew where she came from and they treated her as sub-human. The children tortured her, pushed her in the mud, the families she worked for beat her.”

By the time Sophea came into Chhun Ngonn’s care, his own children had grown up. He knew that if Sophea stayed with him and his wife, she would be alone. He also knew she needed special care to overcome the deep trauma she had experienced.

He explained:
“After I asked about how Hagar would ensure her safety, and what services they would provide, I agreed for Sophea to be sent to Hagar. They would be able to provide the much needed recovery services for her to heal emotionally and would also provide good schooling.”

You already know how the next part of Sophea’s story turns out. You know that she is now in her third year of university and focused on her dream of helping other girls like her, so you know that this was a wise decision on the part of Chhun Ngonn. But it was also a difficult one.

“On the day that she left, my family relatives and the local community came over to see her off, but I didn’t stay. It was too emotional for me to see Sophea leave us. I loved her like my own daughter even though we’d only cared for her for two months.”

Chhun Ngonn is so happy that Sophea is doing so well.

“Now, she has grown up. She is a young lady and doing so well for herself. She’s a successful student and I’m so happy to hear that she’s giving back to the community, helping empower young girls like that little girl, hurt and abused, that she used to be.”

Sophea and Chhun Ngonn are planning to meet soon. “I can’t wait” says Chhun Ngonn.

Chhun Ngonn made a wonderful decision to help transform Sophea’s life 12 years ago.

You can also make a wonderful decision this Christmas by transforming the life of a child like Sophea.

All donations will be MATCHED dollar for dollar until Christmas thanks to a very generous supporter. Please donate today to maximise this incredible opportunity to double your impact.

Thank you so much for your support for girls like Sophea.