Restoration After Slavery Abroad

Others, Stories , Trafficking

Contributed by: Ratanak International


Ly was 18 when her mother left Cambodia to work abroad. Ly watched her go with a heavy heart. They had always supported each other through dark times—her father’s violent storms of anger, the gnawing pangs of poverty, the disappointment when she had to leave school in grade six. Now, Ly was alone.

So when a broker from the same agency offered Ly a chance to work in Malaysia as a housemaid, she accepted. She was excited at the thought of being close to her mother, and by the promise of earning $300 a month, more than she could make in her village. 

But when she arrived, her excitement turned to despair. Her days were exhaustingly long, she was malnourished, and her pay was shortchanged. Her “employer” treated her as a slave and there was no way to contact her mother or anyone else. 

When she begged the broker for a new work assignment and correct pay, Ly was sent somewhere much worse. Her new captor was vengeful. He terrified her. Ly lived under a shadow of violence. She was constantly insulted and in fear of being beaten. 

Finally, after 7 terrible years enslaved, a coworker took pity on her and let Ly use her cell phone. 

Searching Facebook, she found a man from her village who knew her family’s number. She called them, her heart racing with hope. To her surprise, her mother answered! They were overjoyed to hear each other’s voices. 

With her mother’s help, Ly contacted a nonprofit that worked with the Cambodian Embassy. 

Escape seemed impossible. But after careful planning, she was ready. 

With a car outside, she told her captors she was taking out the trash. Her heart pounding, fearing every step would be her last, she gripped the bag and left the building. She saw the waiting car, and her spirit soared; she dropped the bag and sprinted over, leaping into the passenger seat. At last, she was free!

Once she was back in Cambodia, Ratanak was ready to support her—thanks to you!

After 7 years of backbreaking work, abuse, chronic sleeplessness, and malnutrition—Ly was left with deep scars. Because of your generosity, she was able to spend time healing in our transitional home. She received medical care and therapy to heal the visible and invisible wounds from her time in slavery.

Ly is an inspiring woman. Today she’s 26 and driven to help her family. During a job counselling session, she shared her dream to open a grocery stall so she can lift her family out of poverty and pay off their debt. 

The day Ly reunited with her family was charged with emotion. 

After nearly a decade of exploitation, abuse, and loneliness, Ly stood before her mother once again. Her mother radiated immense joy and relief as she wrapped Ly in a tearful embrace. “I’m happy that you helped my daughter to come back after being separated for 7 years.” – Ly’s Mom

Today, we’re supporting Ly in her home community. Not only is she working toward her dream of opening a grocery stall, but Ratanak was able to negotiate to reduce her family’s debt! 

Gifts like yours make it possible to restore lives.

This year, we’re supporting an increased number of trafficking survivors like Ly with transitional and community-based care, and we couldn’t do that without you. Thank you!

You can read the rest of our E-newsletter at:



*Names, images and or/some details have been altered as appropriate to protect the identities of those in our care.