What We Do
Hagar is an aftercare agency that exists to restore the lives of women and children that have been devastated by severe human rights abuses including:
- sexual exploitation
- domestic violence
They know the physical agony of rape, loss of freedom, and violence, as well as the heartache of rejection, betrayal and humiliation.
In 2016, Hagar supported 981 women and child survivors of trafficking, domestic violence and exploitation in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Vietnam. They were among the world’s most broken and despondent people… but not now. Through it’s sphere of influence, Hagar has indirectly benefited more than 100,000 family and community members, advocating for systemic change in the community.
“Because I was abused, I was rejected by my family. Because I was exploited, they abandoned me. Because of what happened to me, I was disgraced…I just want to be free.” Aziza, Afghanistan.
Recovery begins with rescue. While Hagar is not a rescue organization, we partner with rescue agencies, such as APLE (Action Por Les Enfants), IJM (International Justice Mission), government agencies, and local police, who refer clients to our care. They consistently refer the toughest cases to us.
Safety & Protection
Once a client is referred from local police, customs, partner rescue agencies or partner organizations, they are assigned a case manager who will stay with them for their whole recovery journey. For every client, this journey begins with a fundamental focus on safety and security. It is crucial that each client feels secure in both their home and working environments.
Protection looks different for each woman and child in Hagar’s care. In the immediate term, survivors are placed in one of Hagar’s Recovery Shelters to enable them to receive urgent healthcare and medical assessment (including STD tests and full immunizations).
Protection might also mean helping a woman or child secure identity cards and birth certificates, pursue legal action, testify in a court case, understand his or her rights, or provide other support to help them protect themselves. Hagar works with governments and partner organizations to ensure the protection of the women and children in our care and trains police and civil society in how to respond.
Going after perpetrators and bringing them to justice is a long and painful process. Hagar does whatever it takes to secure justice for our clients. We support women and children throughout the court case process. Oftentimes, this means preparing children for court by facilitating a mock trial. In some cases, it means securing a screen for the trial so that clients do not have see the perpetrator.
Hagar Cambodia recently worked with UNICEF to conduct a study called “A System Just for Children.” This research details the involvement of 54 child victims and witnesses in Cambodia’s criminal justice system and aims to support the development of criminal court procedures that more fully reflect the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
“I received training on employability skills like teamwork, problem-solving and self-management and when I was finished I even got a job interview!” Zarifa, Hagar Afghanistan
Hagar provides intensive post-trauma counseling, 24-hour support from house mothers, help with medical needs, art therapy, dance, sport, life skills training and other opportunities to develop self-worth, resilience and confidence.
For the most intense needs, our counselors conduct Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), developed for Hagar’s use by John Hopkins University. The program aims to build resilience to cope with future challenges, achieve emotional and psychological health and develop skills to provide for economic independence. Our clients’ families also receive counseling to help them understand the impact of trauma on their child and how that trauma has affected their own lives.
Most women and children come to Hagar with little or no education. Hagar provides early childhood education, formal schooling and scholarships for collegiate-level education. Women receive literacy education, vocational skills, career counseling and on-the-job training.
Hagar sponsors a Community Learning Center where students can complete 2 years of schooling in 1 year. Students with trauma may have trouble concentrating or may experience outbursts. Teachers are specially trained to respond to these trauma symptoms.
Hagar facilitates an effective mentoring program for students to participate in creating positive relationships with past Hagar students who have finished secondary school and are furthering their education. This provides each woman and child with the hope of a brighter future.
Financial independence brings a whole lot of dignity. Because it isn’t just about a pay check (though that is important too). Business – social or otherwise – is about dignity. It’s about individuals having the opportunity to take control of their futures, build their confidence, express themselves, and form meaningful relationships with a wider community. It is a place to support oneself and build social capital.
To this end, Hagar partners with businesses that provide a safe and supportive work environment for women and youth who may have no work experience and are still recovering from past trauma.
“I am happy to see my children play in the house and enjoy life in the community again…My children are able to come back to me and I want to take them care better than previous time.” Vanak & Sophy’s mother, Hagar Cambodia
Transitional Care & Foster Care
Belonging and contributing to a community is crucial to becoming whole. Hagar assists women and children in successfully integrating into the community of their choice by reconciling or reconnecting with family or finding a loving foster home.
By working with families, friends, churches and communities, Hagar creates a healthy, safe, and supportive environment for women and children to go home and live happily among loved ones.
Before an individual moves into a family and community setting, Hagar social workers and counselors help prepare relatives and community members to receive the client. Furthermore, Hagar conducts monthly monitoring visits for at least two years to ensure each woman and child is safe and thriving.