About

In December 2009 our CEO, Nicky Mih, spent a month with more than 200 survivors in Cambodia, asking what they wanted and how we in Australia could help. They wanted to end sex slavery. They wanted for survivors to be able to attend university so that they could become teachers, doctors and lawyers as they viewed these professions as being fundamental in ending sex slavery. They also explained that when girls are rescued from the brothels the traffickers simply go out into the villages and take a new young girl. They wanted these girls to be protected. They believed that if these young girls were in school they would not be trafficked.

These survivors had identified a gap! There were fabulous organisations collaborating with the police on rescue operations, there were aftercare centres, there were legal teams working in the justice system to bring about prosecutions.

But we couldn’t find an organisation out in these rural villages specifically identifying these girls before the traffickers did. And so was born Free To Shine.

We found that in these poverty stricken villages where parents are struggling to simply feed their children, most children do not get to transition onto secondary school, which is typically more expensive and further away than primary school. A young teenage girl, with no education beyond primary school, and no vocational skills, living in poverty, is then at high risk of being targeted by traffickers. Often times parents are told the young girl will be taken to the city to be a maid for a rich family and her wages will be sent home to support her family. Usually, there is no job, no wages are sent to her family and she finds herself enslaved in the commercial sex industry cut off from all she knows.

Only 80% of children in Cambodia enroll in primary school and only 26% enroll in secondary school. The rates are even lower in rural Cambodia and lower still for girls.

We had to figure out how to get into these villages, identify which girls were most at risk and how to get them in school and keep them there. Fast-forward and we are well on track to achieve our goal of 1,000 girls by June 2016.

We welcome you to be a part of this very special journey.