Konica Minolta is committing to fight human trafficking after sending 13 employees to Cambodia on a week long campaign to support women and children affected by the underground trade.
The team raised more than $31,000, which will support the work of AFESIP (Acting for Woman in Distressing Situations) in Cambodia. The money will be used to support two young women to complete their second year of university, ensure five months education for 50 girls residing temporarily at the shelter, and help the service to purchase new books for its library.
Mark Brown, product marketing manager at Konica Minolta, says, “The starting point for us was learning about Cambodia’s confronting and violent history, which still echoes in the region today, and is one of the things that struck me the most during the visit. Indeed, one of the most striking things you notice when walking around is the distinct lack of older people as most from that generation were killed during the Khmer Rouge’s reign.
“Despite the past, we found that the people of Cambodia were forgiving and focused on moving on with the future. They realise that if they want to heal the country they cannot look back and seek revenge for lives lost, but need to look forward and work towards bettering the lives of the generations still affected through education, tourism, and other economic initiatives.
“Our guides during the visit all had their own personal stories, which they were more than happy to share. It seems that everyone we met had a story, and that everyone had been affected by the turmoil in one way or another. Speaking with survivors and victims overcome with emotion really drives home the devastation that Cambodia once faced.
“We also visited the shelter, which houses women and children who have escaped from slums or who were sex workers. The shelter provides a safe place, education, meditation, and psychologists to help them heal and give them a pathway to a better life. Some of the girls we met were studying nursing and business. To see their transformation was inspiring and empowering. Some of the girls shared with us what brought them there and the opportunities they now had. They were not going to let the events of the past dictate their future.
“It is inspiring that a lot of the girls who graduate return to the shelter as outreach workers themselves so they can help others like them.
“As a parent, seeing children at the shelter really struck a chord with me. Kids as young as four welcoming you, grabbing your hand, and calling you daddy, tugs at your heartstrings. It was wonderful to observe how all of the children interacted. Although most of them are not family, they act as a community of people caring for each other and understanding each other through shared experience.
“This trip was tragic, emotional, and, also, really uplifting. We could see where the money was going and how it would help the women and children improve their lives. I feel encouraged by the programs in place and believe that they are absolutely for the betterment of Cambodia. I look forward to seeing what is next.”
The effort was a collaboration with charity partner Project Futures, an Australian organisation that aims to combat human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Konica Minolta has worked in partnership with Project Futures since 2013.
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