In 2015, I spent some time working with Hagar International in Cambodia. Hagar International is a non-profit on a mission to aid women and children who suffer extreme human rights violations. Domestic violence, pedophilia, sexual exploitation, and slavery are some of the reasons why these women and children come to Hagar.
As a foreign stranger, who didn't know the language, and was attempting to document the men and women that been through the this program, shattering their well deserved privacy, it was a wonder to not see these people slam the door or curse in my face. Instead most greeted me with warmth and went out of their way to make me comfortable. The reason? They want their stories to be heard so that these stories don't continue to multiple and quadruple in tens, hundreds, thousands across the world. They hope for change.
They understand that the horrors that they went through are happening to other women and children right in this moment and so they let me intrude and probe, willing to make this part of their life public. In this way, through my pictures and the information that Hagar provides, their stories will be heard and more awareness can be raised so that we are one step closer to stopping these human rights abuses from happening again.
However I am not here to tell you their past, which I do not have any right to tell. Instead I want to give you a glimpse of their recovery, seen through my own eyes. Documenting their success as they reintegrate back into their own communities says just as much about who they are as people as much as their past.
The people that I met in Cambodia are survivors. They have been through the most excruciating human rights abuses, yet they are striving to live their lives. This, says so much about their character, their will, their determination. My hope is that I will be shedding light on the little things they do, maybe it will only be a detail or a habit that I picked up on, yet these are the little acts that build up to create how they live their days, surviving, overcoming the most extreme challenges that were and are thrown in their way. In these next thirteen images, let me introduce you to these awe-inspiring men and women.
Note: All names used have been changed for their safety.
To learn more about Hagar International and how you can help visit https://hagarinternational.org