Sophea was only four years old when her father sold her into slavery. She spent most of her young life doing hard labour, tending cows and being mistreated by the families she served.
Sophea never had a chance to get an education and had to endure abuse and violence from a young age. 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 concerned strangers took Sophea to the village chief, Chhun Ngonn, who with his wife, provided protection to Sophea until they could find the right care for this traumatised young girl.
“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…” said village chief Chhun Ngonn when he came across young Sophea.
By the time Sophea came into Chhun Ngonn’s protection he knew she would need 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.”
The day Sophea left for Hagar, Chhun Ngonn was too emotional to bid farewell. “I loved her like my own daughter even though we’d only cared for her for a short time.”
Sophea has now graduated from university with a Bachelor of Social Work and is working to empower girls through education.
“She was very afraid and it was clear to me that she had been mistreated,”
Chhun Ngonn, Village Chief.
This is another chapter of Sophea’s story