Many people within Cambodia migrate to find work both within the country and overseas. Without much knowledge on how to go about this, people are often persuaded to use brokers who charge high fees and can be exploitative. For members of one village in Prey Veng, using a broker not only cost them a lot of money but almost denied them their right to vote in the country’s national election.
Having been offered opportunities to work in Thailand by a recruitment company, 25 people from AngKa Chear village were asked to pre-pay USD$195 each to obtain jobs. They also had to submit items such as their birth certificates and ID cards before the company would process the necessary documentation. But when the Cambodian election came around, the workers struggled to have their documents returned to them, meaning they would face difficulties when registering to vote.
This is where CARE’s Safe Migration and Reduced Trafficking (SMART) volunteer, Pouv Savouen, stepped in. While she was conducting an awareness raising session in the village, community members alerted her to this issue. Savouen conducts regular sessions to improve people’s knowledge of what to expect when migrating for work so that they can make informed choices. A representative for the Commune Council for Women and Children, she became aware of the impacts of migration when she noticed that there were less people around each time she visited―many were leaving to find work elsewhere.
Savouen brought this issue to the attention of the SMART provincial coordinator, who in turn reported this to the Deputy District Governor. With government intervention at district level, the company was instructed to return all documents they were withholding from the villagers. In addition, 11 people who had not left for work were returned the money they had paid. All involved were very happy that there was someone who could intervene on their behalf, as if Savouen had not been discussing safe migration with the community they would not known who to turn to for help.
Those such as the workers from AngKa Chear who have had bad experiences when migrating for work now don't trust recruitment companies. Despite this, many still want to seek employment outside of their village and so are keen to learn about legal migration processes so that they can avoid exploitation. For this reason, Savouen is happy that more and more people have been attending her sessions so that she can ensure they are equipped with the knowledge they need to steer clear of the risks involved and make informed decisions to migrate safely