Srey Poch used to live in a small village near the sea in Sihanoukville. Her father was a fisherman, and her mother made roof thatching to support the family. One day, Srey Poch’s father sold his fishing boat and became jobless. He fell into alcohol addiction and brought more debt to the family
Burdened by the family’s situation, Srey Poch’s older sister migrated to work in Malaysia, and her brother moved out to live with his wife. Her parents decided to work at a rice farm in another district and left Srey Poch with a family in their neighbourhood So that she could continue her studies.
While staying with the family, Srey Poch was in charge of doing some house work, was generally treated fairly, and had the chance to go to school like other normal children. However, one day everything began to change. Her nightmare began when the owner’s brother, who lived in the same house, raped her. For a long time, Srey Poch endured repeated abuse from this man.
“He threatened me not to tell anyone, or else he would kill me.” She said.
Srey Poch finally reported her story to a lady living nearby. The story reached her parents and her father was infuriated.
“The perpetuator’s mother tried to convince my father not to report to the police by using money, but my father still sought justice for me,” said Srey Poch.
Srey Poch’s story spread throughout her entire community. Everyone knew what had happened to her. There was no escape for Srey Poch from the discrimination and stigma . Everyone wanted the abuser sent to prison, but to this day, the perpetrator is still running from the law.
Srey Poch expressed her feelings toward her perpetrator, “I am angry with him. I wish to see him arrested and finally sent to jail.”
With referrals from LICHADO and World Hope, Srey Poch eventually came to live at Hagar. Now, it’s been one year since Srey Poch found a safe haven at Hagar. She said she has everything in Hagar. She lives happily, with enough food to eat, nice clothes to wear, and a lot of trips to enjoy.
Srey Poch is an outstanding student at the Community Learning Centre (CLC). She is smart, hard-working and gentle. She always receives rewards from her teachers for her hard work in her classes.
She feels she has regained her self-value, something that had been lost since the time when she was abused. Srey Poch no longer cares about the past, and she is looking forward to her new life in the future with a belief that God will bless her and make her a successful person. In the future she wants to have a small family and children who can enjoy good education and safety from any abuse.
Like most Hagar clients, Srey Poch’s story is anything but simple. Even as Srey Poch has overcome so much, and regained her sense of value and hope, she is still afraid to return to her home. There is a heavy stigma that will likely follow Srey Poch for a long time to come. This is why Hagar has put no time limits on how long and far we will walk this journey with her.
*Hagar pursues the highest degree of care and protection for its clients; names have been changed and images do not necessarily reflect the individual profiled.