Cambodia: What You Can Do

Cambodia: Things You Can Do

This is only a partial list which I hope will change and evolve as Non-Governmental Organizations grow in capacity and adjust to the needs of Cambodia.

Please understand this list is based solely upon my experience with the NGO’s or my research into anti-human trafficking work. It is not complete, it is swayed by my interactions in-country, it involves compromise I am unable–or unwilling–to discuss in a forum as public as this. If you consider adopting any one of these NGO’s I *strongly* encourage you to do your own due diligence. Educate yourself.

I have criteria I would prefer to promote which, at the their most base level are:
• Involvement of the client population in determining their own needs
• Education and empowerment leading to self sufficiency and eventual withdrawal of the NGO
• Promotion of gender equality
• Care that is not based on acceptance of faith; clients should be free of influence and left to choose their own religious path, if any at all.

I welcome your input and comments.


Simple things you can do:

Write a letter to your Senator, to your Governor, to your Mayor, to the US Ambassador. US foreign relations have a huge impact on international development, migration, and human trafficking.

For instance, as soon as 2011, US oil firm Chevron anticipates extracting oil and natural gas from an offshore reserve which some estimate will double Cambodia’s GDP. In Nigeria, decades of oil wealth has yet to equalize the economic disparities; in fact, it has made them much worse. What our government, and our businesses, do can have in impact; your voice can matter.

Be “Child Safe” when you travel.

When others travel, be inquisitive. I have met, seen, and learned of far too many individuals who visit South East Asia regularly to sexually exploit minors. And it’s not just overweight old men. If the sexual abuser who lives down the street from you can’t get it at home, he or she may be doing it abroad. Be open to the idea that things aren’t as you perceive them to be. Ask questions. Educate yourself.

It’s not just something that happens “over there.” Human trafficking happens in the US. It happens in your home town. Of note are mail order brides, domestic servants, and other forms of labor exploitation. Again, be aware, educate yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask the right questions.


Mith Samlan / Friends International / Child Safe International
“Friends” is very well endorsed by the people I met who have either professional or personal relationships with the organization. I too would agree based on my experience. And the food at the restaurant it good, the staff great. Go visit.

Mith Samlan Mission:
1. Meeting the street children’s immediate essential needs in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child:
• the right to life: providing nutritional meals, shelter, a safe environment and medical care;
• the right to development: providing education and reintegrating them into public school and by developing their curiosity;
• the right to protection: fighting all forms of abuse against children including physical, sexual, family, and emotional abuse;
• the right to participation: making children aware of their responsibilities and promoting action within the center and in the community;

2. Reintegrating the children into their families, into society, into the public school system, into their culture;

3. and building the capacity of the staff so that the Cambodian nationals are able to run the program independent of foreign intervention in the near future.

What you can do:


Support a project or initiative, support a child’s studies, provide Mith Samlan with materials, dine at the popular “Friends Restaurant” in Phnom Penh or purchase items from either of the NGO’s stores.


Friends International:
(is the bigger version of Mith Samlan)
Extensive website here:

Child Safe International
Child Safe is a campaign of Friends International.

“The best way, you as an individual or you as a business can support us, is to be ChildSafe yourself.” Please read:


Transitions Cambodia

“Empowering victim survivors of sex trafficking with the opportunity to heal and recapture the most basic of human rights, freedom and hope.”

Based in Portland. 501(c)3 non profit meaning US donations are tax deductible. Operates a transitional care center in Phnom Penh and is looking to expand to two other major cities in Cambodia to meet the needs of its clients. Focuses on life skills, counseling, professional development in order to successfully reintegrate or repatriate female victims of sex trafficking.

What you can do:
Donate. You will feed, clothe, house, and educate young women who are healing from the trauma of their experience.

Contact Transitions Cambodia about other opportunities in the social service and professional skills development fields.

From the Executive Director:
1. Donate or become a monthly sponsor to TCI – it takes money to support these girls and give them viable futures. This is an intimate way to participate and we are working on ways for people to become more involved with the girls.
2. Join TCI’s HERO program on the website to help fund raise and develop awareness of victims needs. This will continue to develop over the coming months
3. Join the FaceBook or MySpace cause for Transitions Cambodia and invite others to join. Our goal is to establish 10,000 members to give a face to this issue. This will have upcoming events in the Northwest that they can participate in.
4. Use GoodSearch and GoodShop for Transitions Cambodia, where a percentage of every search and product purchased supports TCI. This means changing their search habits, but it is a great way to raise funds/awareness.
5. Openly talk to friends and family about sex trafficking and TCI – we can help provide materials to do this.


Stop Exploitation Now

SEN was established in 2005 to fight exploitation and abuse in developing countries. We are a non-governmental, non-denominational organization. Our work is presently limited to countries in Southeast Asia, with a focus on Cambodia. We are working to reduce exploitation and poverty and rehabilitate victims of abuse. Stop Exploitation Now! is committed to spending donor money in the field supporting projects that impact people’s lives. As a result of our minimal overhead, more of your donations go directly to those in need.

What you can do:
Donate. SEN is a US-based 501(c)3 with minimal overhead; your donor directed funds will help support partners on the ground in Cambodia.


The Lake Clinic

“The Lake Clinic is a project dedicated to bringing basic healthcare, as well as disease surveillance and proper medical referrals to a severely isolated and underserved region of Cambodia — the Tonle Sap.”

“Our aim is to create a shipboard healthcare facility to serve the people of Cambodia living on or near the Tonle Sap Lake. The ship will be designed to cruise even in the shallow waters found during the dry season. The Lake Clinic (TLC), as it will be known, will be staffed by Cambodian health care providers, as well as foreign volunteers when available, and a local crew.”

Initially the Lake Clinic will provide dental care and health education. Visit the website to learn how the boat building is progressing.

What you can do: (from the executive director, with whom I spent five days)
For the short term-
• Money; money buys gas; pays salaries; buys supplies; pays the rent and this thing called internet.
• Challenge your company, friends, family and neighbors to match donations.
• Talk to your dentists about TLC and give them the website address.
• Basically the intellectual stuff is here in Cambodia. The materials can be purchased locally. Only money can make this boat float.

Longer term will see potential for visiting medical professionals, volunteers, internships, and contracting of the boat and its crew for travel on the lake.


AFESIP / Somaly Mam Foundation (Cambodian based) (USA based foundation)

The Somaly Mam Foundation combats the illegal trade by funding organizations that rescue, rehabilitate, and reintegrate these young girls. All organizations funded by the Somaly Mam Foundation are audited operationally and financially – AFESIP Cambodia is currently the primary beneficiary. The Foundation’s mission includes raising awareness through a multi-level marketing and educational campaign consisting of online interaction, celebrity voices, high-profile events, media exposure, university clubs, and a central source of educational information. The foundation’s ambitious vision of ending sexual slavery requires the support of an active community. The foundation is 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

What you can do:
Go see the film “Holly” which is re-opening in select cities; AFESIP plays a role in this film that addresses child sexual exploitation and human trafficking.


M’lop Tapang

M’Lop Tapang was created with the goal of giving street children access to the learning tools, resources, and opportunities they needed to empower themselves and become productive members of society. Since then, we have achieved this by offering regular meals, shelter, medical care, education, counselling, and protection from all types of abuse.

M’lop Tapang is very well endorsed by the many people I met who have professional or personal relationships with the organization.

What you can do:
Donate. Volunteer. See the website for details.


Children’s Surgical Center

“The CSC aims to improve the quality of life for Cambodian children in need by providing rehabilitation surgery and general rehabilitation programs. Integral to this mission is a program of training local surgeons and health workers, focusing on the development of sustainable health services. CSC provides a wide range of surgery, encompassing facial reconstruction, orthopaedic surgery, eye surgery, and plastic & burn surgery.”

CSC has four operating tables and hosts visiting surgeons. The Khmer doctors provide field training for visiting surgical students; the stuff they get is pretty acute, often unlike what a student will find in western hospitals. Services offered to patients by CSC are free.

What you can do:


Cambodian Acid Survivor’s Charity

CASC is the only organization in Cambodia working with victims of acid violence using a holistic approach, offering non-judgmental assistance to victims in Cambodia, irrespective of their role in an injury.

What you can do:

CASC: vol. english teacher


Center for Children’s Happiness and Cambodian Dump Children’s Committee


CCH provides housing, education, and opportunity to orphans from the Steung Meanchey landfill on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. CCH also conducts community outreach, funded by its USA-based Friends of CCH partner, in the form of the “CCH Road Show” in which children from the orphanage dramatize social problems such as trafficking and domestic violence.

What you can do:
Donations will support on-going operations or allow for facilities expansion. For instance, CCH is hoping to build an education center and library in a nearby village filled with Phnom Penh residents relocated by the government. Land purchase estimated at $7000 USD. Founder Mech Sokha can provide a proposal if you are interested.

Donate via partner org’s listed at:

Volunteer your time to work with the youth or assist the staff.


Bridges Across Borders, South East Asia

Bridges Across Borders was formed to address the root causes of violence and hatred in the world. We are working to dissolve the imagined and imposed borders that separate us by:
• Encouraging a cooperative spirit that builds understanding of our global community
• Supporting projects that lead to sustainable economic self-sufficiency
• Preserving ancient cultures and ancient species
• Teaching creative nonviolent methods of resolving conflict
• Promoting universal principles of human rights

What you can do:
Donate, Volunteer, Intern


SISHA: South East Asia Investigations into Social and Humanitarian Activities

“SISHA will contribute to the suppression of human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children in South East Asia by detecting and investigating breaches of relevant domestic legislation, law and international protocols relating to human trafficking and sexual exploitation, by investigating offenders, both local and non-local, who traffick, sell or arrange for sale women and children and/or engage in sexual activity with children.”

What you can do:

Also: (
“SISHA employs trained and qualified national and international staff for various positions within the organisation from lawyers, investigators, social workers and business administrators. Current positions will be advertised on the website.

“SISHA welcomes support from volunteers and often receives requests from students and graduates from universities around the world to undertake short term work experience in areas of law, social work and business administration within our organisation. Please contact SISHA directors for information regarding volunteer work.”