Bitter past, better future

Apr 25, 2017
Fulfilling a day in the life of typical working-class parents, 40-year-old Samnang* and his wife left their two girls, Chenda* and her younger sister at home. Upon their return, it was clear that something terrible had happened. Chenda was crying. "Her face was pale, like all the blood had gone," her father recalls in tears.

The 13-year-old had come face to face with a terrible trauma: her father's trusted friend had brutally raped his beloved Chenda. She had been beaten, strangled and traumatized, even forced to watch her pet dog die by the hand of her attacker in her own home.

Samnang was devastated. His instinct was to take violent action against his daughter's aggressor, but he was held back by his relatives.

After the attack, Chenda refused to go anywhere, she would only hide herself and cry under a blanket alone. She was afraid to be near men, including her father, and wouldn't respond to anyone, not even her mother.

Chenda was taken to World Vision's Trauma Recovery Centre, which provides safe accommodation, healthcare, counselling, informal education, vocational training and legal support for victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse.

Chenda received trauma therapy, participated in recreational activities and received ongoing care from staff, all in a child-friendly environment. She also took computer classes, beading and dance lessons and studied three languages: Khmer, English and Vietnamese. Chenda made friends of all ages and even grew to help others learn.

Through World Vision and the efforts of the local community, a project was established to ensure Chenda's successful reintegration into her family home. Her parents received basic parenting counselling, informal education for running a small business and a cart to sell food.

Over the course of the year of Chenda's recovery, the village leader emphasized safety by having security guards patrol the streets during all hours of the day. Chenda's attacker was eventually arrested and sentenced to 12 years in jail.

Samnang says, "I'm happy to see that my daughter has recovered and is doing well at school. She's turned out to be just as happy as the other kids in the village."

Chenda says that her new dream is to become a doctor so that she can care for her parents and save them medical bills in the future. She says, "I'll study hard and further to see the world and show people what I can do."

*Names changed to protect identity

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