From the start, Sophea’s life was not easy.
“My mother was cruel and hit me whenever I did something wrong. At times I thought she might not be my real mother because she was so cruel towards me. My father was the only one who showed me love.”
Then one day the unimaginable happened. A friend of her father’s grabbed Sophea, pushed her into a car and drove her 300 kilometers away. Far from being saved, Sophea’s abuse became even more severe in her new home. Kept in slavery by the woman who took her, Sophea was not allowed to go anywhere and was not given enough food to eat. She was only four years old.
After trying unsuccessfully to run away many times and a failed suicide attempt, Sophea came under the protection of the village chief and was referred to Hagar two months later. She had finally escaped slavery.
“When I first came to Hagar, I was so happy. Happy to escape a life of violence and running away. Happy that I had found a safe place. At Hagar, I found parents who loved me and gave me a chance to go to school. I finally got what I always wanted.”
That was just the beginning of Sophea’s long journey to healing.
“It’s been 12 years since I first came to Hagar and my life has changed a lot. Through Hagar’s help, I was able to finish primary and secondary school. Through the years, my passion to help girls like me has become stronger.”
Sophea is now in her final year of university. She is studying to become a social worker. Outside of her studies, she volunteers with a number of charities that work with disadvantaged children.
“I want to thank every one of you…. If not for people like you who help girls like me, I wouldn’t be here today. Thank you for walking with me in this journey.”