A trafficking survivor shares shocking revelations of begging for a living for six years. Longdy Chhap was only eight-years-old when he was trafficked from his hometown in Poypet, Cambodia across the border to Thailand. Due to his polio condition, he naturally became an object of exploitation.
In an email interview, he shares his story as a trafficked victim, how he was rescued by the Thai police and rehabilitated by non-governmental organisation Hagar.
What was your predicament when you were trapped as a trafficking victim?
I had to get a minimum amount each day by begging on the streets otherwise I was beaten up and given no food. Sometimes I would sleep alone at a corner, sometimes I was afraid, sometimes not. The brokers would take out their frustration on me knowing I couldn’t fight back.
How long were you trapped in Thailand?
I was trapped in Thailand for six years through multiple rounds of being re-trafficked from Cambodia. For a short period of time I was sent back to Cambodia by the Thai police. The broker had promised my mother that 90% of my earnings would go back home, but in the end only 30% reached my mother. My earnings from begging was used to sustain my family back in Cambodia.
Did anyone try to help you?
Someone felt sorry for me and made a makeshift wheelchair that I could use to move around. When the broker saw that, he said that people would not give me money if I had that. Sometimes he allowed me to use it, and sometimes not. Some Thai people wanted to adopt me but I felt bad for my mum so I didn’t agree. The broker found out and he was worried that I would escape so he kept changing my begging location.
How were you rescued from Thailand?
I was rescued by the Thai police many times, but they got sick of sending me back to Poipet in Cambodia. In the end they sent me to a shelter in Thailand where I stayed for about 6-7 months.
Then they sent me to International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Battambang, Cambodia. This was a long way from the border so I couldn’t get back to Thailand from there. Finally I was sent to Hagar in 2003 where I have stayed for 12 years and received education, meals, shelter and counselling. Now, I’m a mentor and intern counsellor for boys who were traumatised too.
Have the culprits who smuggled you to Thailand been arrested?
The broker was arrested at the final time but I don’t what happened to her in the end
How has Hagar restored your life?
Hagar restored my life through counselling and through the passion and true love of the Hagar staff. Hagar gave me a lot of opportunity to learn new things such as workshop training on many different topics. I also learnt office work and administration work.
Your story ignites a hope to many survivors and victims. What message do you have for them?
I can say that in God we have hope and every problem in this world has a solution. We are not the only people who have this problem, many others have it too and some of them are much worse off than us. I would tell them that even though we have a bad past, we can still have a good future if we show commitment and patience and give it all to God.