Why One Father Endured Exploitation

Others, Stories , Trafficking

Contributed by: Ratanak International

Rangsey’s heart beat faster than he thought possible.

Looking up from his nets, his eyes landed on a fellow worker hunched over in pain, their abusive “boss” standing over him with a large stick in his hand.  

Time stood still. All he could hear was the sound of water sloshing, as the small fishing boat rocked back and forth. Then, the boss turned towards Rangsey looking enraged. “Work faster,” he threatened, “Or I will hit you too.”  

Desperate for income, Rangsey and several men from his village had been unknowingly sold into the Thai fishing industry.   

You see, Rangsey grew up without a father. Living in poverty, he never learned to read or write. Instead of going to school, Rangsey had to earn an income. 

When he grew older, he worked on a cashew and potato farm and discovered a love for farming. He decided to borrow money to clear land and plant rubber trees. 

Soon, he fell in love with a wonderful woman. They married and were blessed with two children. Rangsey and his wife worked every single day, but it was never enough to support their family, let alone repay their debt. They too, became trapped in poverty. 

Striving to create a better life for his family and wanting to ensure his children’s chance at an education, Rangsey met with a broker. He and a few of his fellow villagers accepted a job across the border. 

In Thailand, the broker took his passport and told him that a boat was coming to pick them up. A sudden and strong homesickness washed over him, quickly followed by terror. He hadn’t expected to work on a boat. He had heard horror stories about working at sea—endless hours, starvation and violence. 

Unfortunately…the stories were true. 

On the boat he was forced to work from dawn to dusk with no time to rest and very little to eat. Frustrated and scared, Rangsey pressed on each day, enduring horrid conditions. He felt he had to keep working to send home the small amount of money he received and attempt to pay off his debt. Plus, he had to think about his children’s future. What chance would they have to escape poverty if he could provide nothing for them now!  

But over the next several months, his health deteriorated. Overworked and malnourished, he became anemic and weak. Rangsey simply couldn’t withstand the conditions anymore, so he and the other men from his village made plans to escape. 

When the vessel finally came ashore, they ran for their lives. They didn’t stop walking until they reached the border, and could hail a taxi back to their village.  

Coming home was bittersweet. Rangsey was delighted to reunite with his family! But then hopelessness and shame crept in. Not only had he come home empty-handed, there were still no job opportunities in his village. 

Thankfully, Rangsey was referred to Ratanak! At first he came for health care and emergency food relief during COVID-19 lockdowns. But after receiving job counselling, our staff discovered that Rangsey’s dream was to own a cashew farm. So, Ratanak provided him with 10 chickens and 150 cashew trees. 

But did you know that cashew trees take three years to bear fruit? 

Thanks to donors like you, we are able to walk alongside Rangsey while he realizes his dream. Over the next three years, we will provide ongoing support and ensure that he can provide for his family while his cashew trees grow. 

Looking ahead, Rangsey is excited to sell his cashews when they bear fruit. And he’s doing everything he can to encourage his children to go to school, so they have their best chance at a bright future. 

Rangsey was filled with joy to discover his new strengths and resources for his family. “I am committed to work hard and earn more money to pay my debts and support my family,” Rangsey said. “Thank you for your support, caring and listening.”

Your partnership is essential to stories like this—thank you for helping us be there for survivors every step of their journey to restoration!

You can read the rest of our E-newsletter at https://www.ratanak.org/news/ratanak-newsletter-oct-2022/



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