The Ripple Effect: Cambodian Rescue Girl Toun’s Story
Filed Under: Blog, Cambodia, Girls, Prevention, Reintegration, Rescue, Success Stories
Toun *, a beautiful and determined young lady, was an only child living with her parents and grandmother in a village far from town. Each morning the family would have to wake up at 3am to catch taxis to take them to the market.
Abuse and Injustice
Very late one night, a man snuck into Toun’s room and tried to rape her. Putting a knife to her throat and covering her mouth, the man prevented her from shouting for help. He abused her and ran. Toun’s weeping roused her parents and she explained her horrific experience to them.
The following morning, Toun’s parents went to the village chief to seek justice for their daughter. They told him the perpetrator was a neighbor in their village. However, the man bribed the village leader with money and as a result he was not arrested for his crime. In horror, Toun gathered as much information as she could to send to the police, but nothing was done to bring about justice. Her family was too poor to bribe the village leader or the police themselves and so Toun had to face the prospect of her abuser walking free.
Whilst Toun’s parents were supportive, the rest of the village was not. They pressured her to marry the cruel man who had ruined her life. When she refused, life became unbearable. Her neighbors accused her of creating problems in the village. Aunts and uncles treated her unkindly for refusing to marry the man who had raped her. In their eyes, there was no reason for her not to marry him.
Ashamed and demoralised, Toun became depressed and suicidal. Feeling trapped in an unendurable situation, Toun overdosed on medication. Amazingly she survived and her parents begged doctors to help their daughter.
Coming to the Rescue
Several months later, Toun’s aunt heard about an organisation that could help. Desperate to escape the pressure and shame in her village, she was safely placed in the care of Destiny Rescue. She was just fifteen years old and it was the first time she had left her family home.
Finally able to breathe out, Toun was in a safe place where she was cherished. She spent time studying Khmer language and enrolled in a sewing school to make shirts for another organisation. Toun was able to talk with a Destiny Rescue counsellor who helped her move forward, away from the shame and pain of her past and into a new future. She began to hope again.
Thriving and Flourishing
Persevering in learning about sewing, Toun attended several schools to learn about different styles and spent time teaching herself too. She was a dedicated and determined young woman and her dream was to study advanced sewing in Phnom Penh.
When it was safe to do so, and Toun was emotionally ready, Destiny Rescue reintegrated her back into society and she went to live with relatives in a safe environment. Realising her dream was not yet complete, Destiny Rescue then helped her to find a place to continue her studies, arranging a home for her too. Staying in Phnom Penh on her own was not easy, but Toun persevered for two years until Destiny Rescue then invited her back to teach sewing in their new program. Toun was delighted!
Teaching sewing to the younger girls was a perfect environment for Toun and she flourished. The girls loved her. Her dedication is a perfect example to our girls and she is bubbling with advice for them:
Today, Toun is married and expecting their first baby. Her small home-based sewing business is so successful that she has recently employed four Destiny Rescue girls just to fill the orders!
At Destiny Rescue, we are immensely proud of the tenacity Toun has shown in overcoming the obstacles in her life. We take great delight in seeing the success she has made and our joy is complete in knowing she now has a brand new future ahead of her.
*To protect the identity of this young lady and her family, names and some minor details have been changed.