by Leonie Miller (Sponsorship Co-ordinator for AusCam Freedom Project)
I have the joy of being a mother to two children, one being a beautiful daughter. Naturally I want the very best for her. I want her to be happy, healthy and safe. I want her to progress through life with opportunities, have the ability to dream and one day have a family of her own. That is every mother’s dream – even mothers in countries such as Cambodia. After all, a mother is a mother no matter what nationality she is – it is our heart’s desire to nurture and care for our children.
I can’t imagine what it would be like to see my children hungry, not just feeling a little hungry and wanting a snack, I mean `hungry’. I can’t imagine my family living in conditions that we would consider unsafe, unclean and unfit for human habitation. Living at a dump site is not a place I could call “home” yet for many families it is the only place to call home.
I can’t imagine my daughter having to be a source of my family’s income especially if she was underage or having to make the choice between my family having food or my daughter having an education then realising that there really is no choice. What type of future would my daughter have if she can’t read or write? What life does she have working long hours in a factory for little money when she has barely reached puberty? What are the risks of her being lured away by someone promising false hope and trapping her into a world I can’t even bring myself to think about? Clearly, this should not be happening in the 21st century. Not in any country!
What can I do? Something.
First step was to learn about the issues then to seek a solution. I did exactly that. I discovered that education for young girls is the solution to breaking the poverty cycle for a family in just one generation! The evidence is there. This is why I have volunteered to become the Sponsorship Co-ordinator for AusCam Freedom Project. AusCam work with families living in the slum districts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Their professional Social Workers identify girls who are ‘at risk’ and vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation. AusCam, through the support of generous sponsors, give girls the opportunity to be educated by providing all the essentials for school such as uniforms, shoes, bag, books and bicycle. Each girl in the AusCam program also has access to their Freedom Centre providing counselling, life skills and health workshops (including immunisations), awareness and self defense programs. This is a dream come true for the girls and their families.
I enjoy visiting the Freedom Centre in Phnom Penh and spending time with these precious girls. I love watching them smile because they are happy. I love watching them read because they can read. I love watching them just `being girls’ because they are `girls’ not factory workers or sex workers. Best of all, I love hearing about their dreams and their goals. “I want to be a doctor”. “I want to be a teacher”. “I want to be a lawyer”. These girls are the future and their future not only changes the future for their families but also their communities. I can’t imagine not being involved in something that is life changing. I can’t imagine my world just being all about me. My dream is for all young girls in Cambodia to have their dreams come true.
What an amazing Mothers’ Day gift it would be for all mothers around the world to see their daughters have hope and happiness.
I hope my dreams come true so that their dreams can come true.
PROTECTION & EMPOWERMENT THROUGH EDUCATION, MENTORING & LIFE SKILLS
AusCam Freedom Project believes girls should be 'taught not trafficked'.
You can set a girl free by sponsoring her education here: