Hagar International recovers and empowers women and children who are victims of human rights abuses of human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and domestic violence. Since 1994, the ministry has been serving women and children who are cast out, without hope, and whose cries are not being heard.

Hagar provides quality holistic care, for as long as it takes, to restore life in all its fullness. For women, this includes residential care, counseling, literacy education, job readiness and vocational training. Most women have their first formal work experience as an employee of a Hagar social enterprise. Children’s services include trauma counseling, long-term care, and education.
Here’s how you can help:

 $25 buys materials to teach a woman to read; making other training possible.

 $50 provides one month of intensive counseling for a child rescued from a brothel.

 $100 supports a woman for one week in a Hagar Shelter, providing food, trauma counseling, legal assistance, recreational activities, and whatever she needs to begin the path to recovery.

 $200 pays a Hagar teacher’s salary for a month, providing ‘catch-up’ education to abandoned, trafficked, and impoverished children who have not attended school regularly.

 $500 pays for 3 months of job training for a woman, preparing her in the career of her choice.
Hagar was featured on NBC Dateline in a 2004 documentary, and again in a follow-up program in 2008.

On July 25, 2008, Hagar’s Aftercare Program was featured on NBC Dateline. The hour-long documentary was designed as a follow-up to a 2004 program, when NBC Dateline went on an undercover raid of Phnom Penh brothels. Several girls, rescued at very young ages, have been in Hagar’s care ever since.

“Truly one of the most powerful videos NBC Dateline ever produced. This is such a heartwarming success story. God bless those children (now young women) and God bless Hagar for walking the long road of recovery with them.” — Brian M.

Why You Should Know About Hagar International

Nearly 30 years after Cambodia emerged from the reign of the Khmer Rouge, it remains one of the 50 poorest countries of the world. A majority of the population still lives in desperate poverty and struggles to meet the most basic needs of food and clean water. Literacy rates hover at 35%, while only 26% of the population has access to safe drinking water. Cambodia is also a source, transit and destination country for people trafficking. Many children are trafficked to neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam to beg, sell candy or flowers, or shine shoes, while within Cambodia children are forced into waste scavenging, salt production, brick making and quarrying. Tricked by promises of well-paid work, many find themselves sold into Phnom Penh’s many brothels, forced into slave-like working conditions.

The founder of Hagar International, Pierre Tami, is an award-winning visionary leader, and Hagar’s creative and innovative social enterprises have been very successful opportunities for former victims of exploitation.

Hagar has centers in Cambodia, Vitnam, Afghanistan and is expanding into Myanmar this year.
Join us as we celebrate women around the world on International Women’s Day.

Please add us on Facebook to hear more about the lives Hagar is changing, our expansion projects, and how you can help.

If you are so inclined, a donation of any amount can be made on our Web site. Because of generous supporters, we are able to help give women, girls and boys hope and light from the dark places they have seen.


Learn More

When Hagar started in 1994, it was primarily to meet the needs of women and their children who were destitute, displaced after years of civil war or simply fleeing domestic violence. Since then, Hagar has expanded its reach to care for victims of human rights abuse who find themselves with little support and often shunned by the broader community. Whilst over 30% of women at Hagar’s shelter continue to be from domestic violence backgrounds, Hagar has seen a rapid increase in the number of women who have been trafficked for sex or raped. Most of the women in the women’s program have young children, secondary victims who have witnessed violence and themselves need a great deal of care and support to recover from their own trauma.

Children’s Needs are Also Met

Hagar also runs programs specifically for children; abandoned, trafficked for labor or sex, rape victims, or fleeing domestic violence. Today nearly 30% of the children in long-term care at Hagar have been victims of sexual abuse or human trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Healing is Possible, Though it is a Long Journey

Most of the women and children that find their way to Hagar have done so through the assistance of local human rights organizations that connect them to Hagar. Recovering from severe trauma is a long journey, and can only be commenced once they feel safe and secure. Hagar provides several residential care facilities in each country for women and children, depending on the background and needs of each individual.

The women’s shelter was started as a drop‐in center to help destitute mothers and their children but has since grown into a diverse program serving the needs of women and their children marginalized by violence and exploitation.

Upon arrival, women are evaluated against Hagar’s assessment criteria. Once admitted into the shelter they and their children are allocated a place to sleep, and provided with bedding, new clothing and nutritious food. They are encouraged to rest and connect with other women in the shelter through the various activities on offer. Their healing journey is only just beginning.

Foster Home Program & Community Based Foster Care, The Foster Home Program provides residential care to children who live in small family groups, each with caring house parents. In this way, children receive love and support from adults who nurture each child in their care, essential for their long‐term recovery. 2007 saw the Community Based Foster Care program begin for children who cannot return to their family of origin. These foster families are based in Cambodia’s provinces and commit to providing long‐term care for 3 or 4 children who are usually siblings.

House of Smiles promotes greater levels of individual potential and increases the capacity for all children with disabilities by providing health care, physical therapy, community based rehabilitation and formal and non‐formal education, in either mainstream or special schools.

In response to the growing incidence of child trafficking for sex in Cambodia, Hagar established an Aftercare program which offers quality care for victims aged between 4-13 years of age upon admission. Launched in 2005, the objective of the program is to address the safety and security of the child, to facilitate a sense of belonging, healing and community, and to reintegrate them, where possible, back into society.

In response to the rise in the number of women who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation being referred to Hagar, it became clear that a new center was needed that will provide residential and rehabilitative services specifically to these women. The deep trauma experienced by women recovering from sexual exploitation necessitates extensive counseling and psychosocial therapies to achieve recovery and reduce the risks of them being re‐trafficked upon leaving Hagar.

Education – for women and children

Education is central to Hagar’s efforts to ensure the recovery and rehabilitation of each woman and child. Hagar provides for the educational needs of every woman and child that it assists, whether it be for special education, assistance to “catch‐up” to their age level, primary, secondary, tertiary education or vocational training so that they are given every chance to break the cycle of poverty and integrate successfully into society.

With more than a third of Cambodians struggling to live on less than US$1 a day, women and children are often silent victims. With little social or political power, they pay a high price for the lack of investment in education and health services vital for their growth and development.

Started in 2006, the Community Learning Center assists extremely disadvantaged children and youth to realize their right to basic education and achieve their learning goals. CLC provides full‐time learning and extra curricula support for children and youth who are from Hagar’s long‐term residential programs (House of Smiles, Aftercare, Foster Home and the Women’s Program) and children and youth from the local community who come to study the curriculum, English and computer skills.


A large majority of the women that find respite at Hagar’s shelter are mothers of small children. To provide a better quality of care for these children, and the children of women working in one of Hagar’s social enterprises, Hagar established early childhood learning centers at Hagar’s shelters and commercial centers (where two of Hagar’s social enterprises are located). A curriculum has been designed especially for the centers, with caregivers trained in how to deliver child-centered curriculum. Each center is well equipped with educational materials and resources, creating a fun, dynamic environment essential to stimulate growth and development.

Vocational Training, Business Skills & Confidence

The women’s shelter provides literacy training for all its residents, most of whom have received little formal education. Not surprisingly, women coming through the centre cite this as the most helpful intervention they receive in their rehabilitation process. It increases their confidence and sense of self worth, enhances their likelihood of employment and greatly reduces their vulnerability to exploitation.

Hagar’s goal is to run a program that will provide students with a diverse training curriculum, equipping them to explore their career options and achieve their dreams, whilst at the same time providing employers with a motivated, job ready work force. The Career Pathways course is offered to women from Hagar women’s shelter and young adults from Hagar’s children’s programs. Hagar also takes students referred from other NGO’s working with similar target groups.

In the first three months of training students learn a range of soft skills, such as developing positive attitudes, communication skills, basic financial literacy, and teamwork. To stimulate their career pathway vision, students visit various work places around the city and meet with a career counselor to explore their options. At this stage of the course, students begin work placements in their chosen career pathway and become trainees. Hagar links trainees with local vocational training centers and businesses, including Hagar’s own social enterprise, Hagar Catering & Facilities Management, where they learn the technical skills needed to find on‐going employment.

Hagar developed social enterprises in response to the need for women going through their recovery programs to achieve financial self-sustainability and ultimately to foster long-term social and economic empowerment. Currently, Hagar is focusing on the hospitality and catering industry. In Cambodia, Hagar Catering serves meals at 18 different sites across Phnom Penh, including two of its own restaurants, international schools, staff cafeterias of five-star hotels, and the US Embassy. In Vietnam, Hagar’s social enterprise partner is Joma Café/Bakery chain. Profits go to improving the working environments and social and economic status of employees, or are given back to support Hagar’s social programs.

Equipped with skills, resume and a positive attitude, trainees are ready to begin the search for employment. This is done with the support of the Career Pathways Job Placement Team that links trainees with local businesses. Where students choose to start their own business, the program provides additional training in customer service, financial management and business skills to increase their potential for success. Ongoing support and follow‐up is also part of the program.

Watch Vuthy’s Story – from an 8-year old living in poverty and an unstable home to a grown man. You won’t believe his journey and what he’s up to now.

Healthy Reintegration into the Community

Success for Hagar is a woman being able to leave the shelter and live independently in the community, knowing she has the skills and inner strength to live a fulfilling life with dignity. It is a child thriving at school, setting goals for their future and striving to achieve them. It is children reunited with parents, or finding a new family that will encourage and nurture them until they become adults and can forge a positive future on their own. Such success is only possible with on‐going support and follow‐up, which is why Hagar introduced a reintegration team in each of it’s projects. Regular, long‐term support also drastically reduces the likelihood of being re‐exploited or re‐trafficked upon leaving Hagar.

The reintegration team works with the women and children to establish when and if they are ready to re‐enter the community. Once this is established, an assessment is made of the safety of them being reintegrated back into their community of origin. If this is not possible, a suitable alternative is found. Women from the shelter will have gone through literacy training and the Career Pathways course, so once the integration process begins they are usually employed in either a Hagar social enterprise or have other employment. Hagar’s reintegration support includes a small start up fund to help the women set up a home, rice support for 3 months and tuition fees for their children. They are also able to apply for a newly developed scholarship program to ensure their children can stay at school for as long as they choose. The reintegration team follows‐up the women and their children for at least 2 years.

Reintegration for children from the children’s program is often more complex as the reason they find themselves at Hagar is due to exploitation or abandonment, thus, most cannot return to their family of origin. Hagar makes every effort to find families that are willing to become foster parents to these children in local communities, but in the meantime, children live at one of Hagar’s residential facilities. Once children reach adulthood, they are supported in their pursuit of further study.

Hagar’s Unique Approach

In 2009 Hagar Cambodia began serving boys from backgrounds of sexual abuse. This was a new initiative not only for Hagar but for Cambodia, as the specialized needs of these boys has been too long neglected. Hagar’s goal is to provide the same high-quality care and restoration services for boys that have been developed for girls.

Hagar has also overcome challenges in working in Afghanistan, as we strive to empower women in a very complex cultural, religious, and political landscape. Translating Hagar’s social enterprise model in Afghanistan involves both dignified and culturally-acceptable work environments for women.

Join us as we celebrate women around the world on International Women’s Day.

Please add us on Facebook to hear more about the lives Hagar is changing, our expansion projects, and how you can help.

If you are so inclined, a donation of any amount can be made on our Web site. Because of generous supporters, we are able to help give women, girls and boys hope and light from the dark places they have seen.