Project Futures Cycle Challenge
During the July holidays, four girls from Year 10 and three girls from Year 11, along with their parents or older siblings, travelled to Cambodia with Project Futures as part of a cycle to end human trafficking.
Project Futures is an Australian not-for-profit organisation, founded by Stephanie Lorenzo, an ex-student of Loreto Normanhurst. As part of the ride we each raised money and awareness for Project Futures.
The ride was 400 km long, through all types of terrain and weather. The trip started in Siem Reap and ended in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s Capital. Riding our bikes was an amazing way to experience this beautiful country and see many sites which the average tourist wouldn’t. Along the way, we visited temples, monasteries, a circus made up of street kids, markets and some locals’ houses. We were truly immersed in the beautiful Cambodian culture, meeting locals and eating delicious foods.
But, most importantly, we visited the two charities which the trip supported: the Cambodian Children’s Trust (CCT) and AFESIP.
These two charities aim to end human trafficking; each with a different focus on how to combat this issue. The CCT work to prevent human trafficking by supporting communities so that they will not have to send their children to orphanages. Unfortunately, orphanages can be corrupt in Cambodia, purposely keeping children in terrible conditions so that they evoke the sympathy of tourists, who proceed to donate money, none of which goes to helping them get out of this situation. 80% of the children in orphanages have living relatives who could be caring for them. This is why the work of the CCT is so valuable and important to continue to support.
AFESIP was founded by Somaly Mam, a survivor of sex trafficking. AFESIP is a centre that houses girls who have been rescued from the sex trade, supplying them with food, shelter, education, and a safe family environment. Visiting the 53 girls at the AFESIP centre during our trip was the most confronting and heartbreaking experience. We heard the stories of these girls, as young as 3, who had been sold to brothels as a way to support their families, and some who had been raped or abused by parents or neighbours. We were shocked after hearing from Somaly that there were another 2 AFESIP centres in Cambodia that could be filled up within a day and save around 100 other girls, but had to be closed due to lack of funds.
Altogether we raised over $47, 000, which will be split equally between the Cambodian Children’s Trust and AFESIP. Seeing firsthand the difference that these funds can make has empowered us all to raise more awareness for this ongoing issue.
We highly recommend the Project Futures Cambodia Cycle Challenge to anyone. It was a most worthwhile experience for all of us, one which you cannot truly understand until you have gone.
If you would like to help support these children and charities in Cambodia your donation (through this link) would be most welcome – because every dollar goes along way 🙂
Anastasia Leaver, Ingrid Monaghan, Abigail Mulcaster and Dominique Rossell
Kate Book, Abigail Glezos and Kate Roberts