Asia, Human trafficking, Reality Tours Blog, Trip Participant Stories

Sangkheum = Hope, Says Stop Human Trafficking Cambodia Alumni

In partnership with the Not For Sale Campaign against human trafficking, Global Exchange Reality Tours for the past three years has  organized a series of delegations geared specifically to confronting the realities of the trade. Focusing on ‘hot spots’ within the world of human trafficking such as Cambodia, Thailand, Peru and Uganda, delegates receive a comprehensive education in the mechanics of human trafficking, as well an understanding of its underlying causes.

I’ve personally journeyed to all these amazing nations and experienced, with other delegates, those who have been freed from exploitation and slavery, learned what it means to rebuild one’s life after having been a victim of trafficking, and engaged directly with groups and individuals on the front lines of the struggle to expose and ultimately end the trade in human lives. Each group has exchanged and supported vulnerable communities targeted by traffickers, learned effective strategies for undermining slave rings, and experienced first hand how emancipated populations rebuild their lives.

Last summer I was fortunate enough to join the Stop Human Trafficking delegation to Cambodia where I shared a room and countless hours of conversations and contemplation with Lori Lindgren Voit. Lori generously taught morning yoga classes to the group, so we started each day stretched and warmed up. Today she graciously shares her impressions with us.

Sangkheum = HopeSangkhuem=Hope By Lori Lindgren Voit



I feel I am in some ways still “coming back” from Cambodia and the Human Trafficking delegation I was part of this past August.  I am daily connecting with people who are interested in doing a similar trip,  working on like projects or just excited to have a conversation about possible solutions in our world.  Though the experiences we had were often challenging, (visiting Tuol Sleng, the Khmer Rouge run prison and torture camp, for example) the conversations and understanding they provided were irreplaceable.  We were able to see a wide variety of centers providing shelter, education and skills to the victims of Human Trafficking.  Our multigenerational crew were able to brainstorm ideas with NGO’s and all of us would grow from the learning conversation.

One benefit of this trip has been the unexpected healing from adding effort to spread awareness and possible solutions to an ill in our world that I had previously felt powerless against. We know there are many unacceptable tragedies going on in our world.  Doing what we can to add strength to the health and education of a countries most vulnerable feels like we’ve made a change. 

I say “we” because I was lucky enough to have the backing of a yoga community. When I first thought of doing some yoga classes and having a raffle/party to raise funds and awareness for this cause, I was not sure what to expect. THEY appreciated ME for gathering like minds in a healing effort, for sharing the info gathered and holding the space for continued conversation!  I am so honored to have had the chance to share the healing with my community as well as the political inside scoop from Boreth and the clarity and humanitarian awareness from Malia our Reality Tours leaders on the ground in Cambodia.

As Lori knows, we are not powerless in the face of this monstrous industry, and the first step towards bringing it to a halt is education. Upon return from our delegations, Reality Tours shares resources for our members to stay involved and  Not for Sale integrates delegates directly into an understanding of the nature of human trafficking in the United States and the meaning of working globally on backyard abolitionist activities. In fact, some of us here at Global Exchange, including our Reality Tours in-country tour operators, and alumni will be attending the Global Forum on Human Trafficking  October 20-22. Hope to see you there!


  1. John

    It’s nice to know that even one person can make a difference.Thanks for sharing your experience.You said that you’ve been to Cambodia, Thailand, Peru and Uganda. WWhich place do you feel like you learned the most?

    • Comment by post author

      Many moments are frozen in time, and in each place deeply resonates with me still today. For example: in Gulu, Uganda, working on a construction problem with the Gulu Youth Development Association and learning about the stories of atrocity these young men encountered and seeing them play basketball together. I learned the power of sports in healing traumas and forgiveness as boys as “enemies’ become team mates. In Kampala, we had the CNN hero of the year award winner Sister Rosemary bring a small group of young women with her (along with another advocate that brought with another group of affected youth from Lira). The students spoke for hours with our group. I wept as others did, yet I also was so moved by the healing that took place as these young women shared their stories with each other. Theirs was shared experience, a shared survival, though each person’s story unique. We experienced empathy. We shared outrage. The group later took up sights and sounds together, went to the lake, shared meals, played soccer and the students went out dancing. I still think about the power of exchange and even travel. For these young Ugandans it was their first visit to the capital. In northern Thailand, I recall seeing young boys squeeze through a fence in Burma. We learned about how they are being trafficked onto commercial fishing ships so we in the “North” can have cheap seafood and shrimp. The stories of these young men greatly touched me as an activist, and as a mother too of two sons. In Thailand, the amazing work of The Mirror Foundation, of the RCP-Recycled Child Project, or Not For Sales’ partner Kunam all were memorable. They all have so much integrity. They do so much good and often with so little material resources because they are needed and because they are in service. Just a few experiences shared, Malia

  2. John

    Thank you for email.Your stories are inspiring.We need more people like you.The more I hear about how these ruthless people exploit the less fortunate for their own personal gain the more I lose hope for humanity. But when I read about you and others like you I know we can and will become a species everybody can be proud of.

    • Comment by post author

      Thank you John. Yes even one person can make a big difference, but when on person teams up with others, even more great things can happen. I hope you don’t mind me invoking a popular quote from Margaret Mead, “never doubt that a thoughtful concerned citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only think that ever does”.

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