Featured on PhotoPhilanthropy: Sex Trafficking and Transitions Global

November 4th, 2009

human trafficking photography by tim matsui at photophilanthropy
Now online at PhotoPhilanthropy is my work from Cambodia which centered around the non-governmental organization (NGO) Transitions Global. Working with them the last star that fell into alignment when I was deciding to document human trafficking in Cambodia. Executive Director James Pond had google-stalked me, then emailed and said he wanted to work with me. On the phone we clicked; he said he was returning to Cambodia to work with their shelter in Phnom Penh. After spending some time with him in Phnom Penh, he offered what I learned was extremely rare access for a journalist working with a western-based human trafficking victim aftercare center.

I spent a month in his company, following the stories of the girls at the Transitions Global center, and watching James’ endless bureaucratic wrangling, relationship building, and running across the country–pedal to the metal. During that time a relationship built on trust developed, allowing me to capture otherwise impossible to photograph moments.

Working with James and Transitions Global in early 2008 wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of my community in Seattle and friends across the country who donated upwards of $6000. A return trip at the end of 2008 to finish Srey Neth’s story was made possible, again, through private donations and from two grants: the King County 4 Culture Arts Grant and the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

I hope to return again, to finish a segment of the story that is contingent on a successful navigation of Cambodian bureaucracy, and, maybe, to look closer at labor trafficking. It all comes down to partnerships, access, and funding. In this economic climate, the latter is the most formidable.

Transitions Global continues to consult on aftercare programs, and to partner with organizations and agencies working to support victims of sex trafficking domestically and abroad.

View the photo essay on sex trafficking in Cambodia at

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