Chanthavy doesn’t remember much about her parents. Her mother died when she was very young, and her father was killed in an accident shortly afterwards. After their deaths, Chanthavy’s brother and sister left to find work in Phnom Penh, leaving their young sister alone to live with her grandfather.

Chanthavy loved pretending to cook as a child, making toy ovens from things she could find around her home. But with barely enough money to survive on, most of Chanthavy’s time was spent working in the rice fields for her grandfather.

When Chanthavy was seven, a neighbor convinced her grandfather to send his young grandchild and one of his daughters to Phnom Penh to find jobs. Desperate for income, the pair set off to the city. There Chanthavy began selling sugar and eggs on the side of a road.

Police found Chanthavy working and referred her to Hagar. Our staff gave her safe accommodation and counselling and, after a year, helped to reintegrate Chanthavy safely back into her community. “The first time I met my case manager, I didn’t want to trust. I felt afraid,” says Chanthavy. “When we spent time together and she built a relationship with me over meeting me many times, I wanted to trust her more. I started to talk with her, and I felt happy that I could share my feelings.”

Hagar provides survivors with intensive, individual care at every stage of their recovery but also works with their communities to prevent further abuse and, when possible, to bring survivors home.

Chanthavy now lives with an aunt and says she’s very happy. “I feel loved here,” she says. She’s thriving at school and is a talented maths student. “When Hagar helped me, I became happy. I was learning, and I became better at making friends.” She’s now experiencing the simple joys of childhood, such as skipping rope with her friends. Hagar will continue to journey with Chanthavy as she grows up, walking each step of the way alongside her.

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