Free to Shine

Free to Shine is an independently funded non-government organisation (NGO) aiming to prevent sex traffickingby providing material and social support for at-risk girls to finish school and also by delivering community education. Free to Shine follow a Human Rights based approach, delivering their scholarship programme to girls and their families.

Cambodia has the 3rd highest rate of human trafficking in the world, 80% of which is sex trafficking. Girls as young as 4 year’s old are sent to brothels, mainly in Thailand.

Free to Shine is looking to support girls in the rural areas of the country that are most in danger. The main risk factors are poverty and not attending school.

In Cambodia 25,000 girls are not going to primary school and 119,000 are not attending lower secondary schools (grade 7-9).

We had the chance to attend meetings with the social workers and some of the girls under the protection programme. For the girls protection and safety, the windows of the bus were covered and we were not allowed to take cameras and mobile phones with us.

We spent an emotional morning with Free to Shine, observing how their trained social workers guided the identified 'at-risk' girls - testing their literacy, checking up on their domestic situation and school attendance and providing the girls with seeds so that they could grow their own nutritious food. One social worker was even a past 'at-risk' girl, who managed to study all the way through to university, all thanks to the support and help she received in her youth. It was an intimate and insightful session that ended with the sharing of cakes and fruits, a mark of friendship forged between hosts and guests.

Impact: everyone on the B1G1 study tour supported 150 days of tuition classes for disadvantaged, 'at-risk' girls.

Scholarship workshop with Child’s Dream

Following lunch at Haven, another vocational training restaurant, we visited Child's Dream Scholarship Workshop. Students who have completed lower secondary level education can apply for a scholarship at a high school supported by Child’s Dream.

Recipients of the scholarship shared their inspirational and heart-wrenching stories of overcoming challenges throughout their journey, as well as their aspirations for the future as they prepared to start university. The participants of the B1G1 study tour then shared lessons from their own entrepreneurial journies, which these dedicated students eagerly listened to.

At the farewell dinner, every participant recounted their highlights and 'goosebump-moments' from the tour as they received their Gratitude Certificate for contributing to the work carried out on the tour. After tears, hugs, and many high-fives, we closed the tour with a final joyful song.