Thirteen Konica Minolta employees have recently returned from Cambodia where they embarked on a seven-day immersion tour, with our charity partner PROJECT FUTURES. On the trip, they gained a deep insight into the effects of sex trafficking and exploitation of women and children in the region, and an appreciation of the battle many victims face on the road to recovery.
PROJECT FUTURES is a not-for-profit organisation that works to raise awareness and funding for programs dedicated to combatting human trafficking and sexual exploitation globally. Its vision is to create an empowered world where every person can take action against human trafficking and exploitation.
The team raised more than $31,000, which will support the work of AFESIP (Agir Pour Les Femmes En Situation Précaire – Acting for Women in Distressing Situations) in Cambodia. The staff paid their own travel costs to make the journey and each person committed to raising a minimum of $2,000.
The money raised will be used to support two young women to complete their second year of university, ensure up to 50 girls residing temporarily at the shelter receive access to education for five months, and help the service to purchase new books for its library.
Mark Brown, product marketing manager, shared his journey and experiences with us:
“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 very forgiving and focused on moving on with the future. They realise that if they want to heal the country they can’t 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’s truly 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 very 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.”
Konica Minolta has worked in partnership with PROJECT FUTURES since 2013 and has contributed more than $300,000 in donations, fundraising, and in-kind support backed by a focus on ensuring a slavery-free supply chain.
Find out more about our charity partner.