Trafficking of girls and women is one of the most serious human rights problems facing Cambodia today. In a country where the per capita income is one of the lowest in the world, and state support systems are negligible, unsuspecting victims are lured with false promises of jobs then forced into sex work or exploitative labor situations. Victims are controlled with threats, lies, drugs, physical force and often held in slave-like conditions.

Our Girls Be Ambitious program was launched to prevent the trafficking of Cambodian girls from poverty-stricken homes for sexual and labor exploitation through an incentive program to stay in school and receive additional vocational training that will provide employment, income, and social and political empowerment.

Among victims of trafficking, illiterate girls who are enticed to migration and exploited en route and at their destination are most vulnerable. Our program aims to improve awareness among these girls at risk by providing them with alternatives close to home and ways to improve their livelihoods.

The Girls Be Ambitious program runs off of our Rural School Project which has built over 530 schools. Attendance of girls in many villages remains low. The main reasons girls do not attend school are because of poverty and pressures upon them to help the family with work in the fields, or to take care of younger siblings and stay home while the parents are farming in the fields . As a result the girls stay illiterate and are vulnerable to exploitation.

We identified and interviewed such girls and families in five villages and found that while they said they wanted to and promised to attend school, immediate economic pressures eventually prevented them from doing so.

The Girls Be Ambitious program provides an incentive for girls and their families to enable them to attend school by providing financial assistance of $10 a month/$120 a year for a girl who had perfect attendance other than excused absences.

Every month, our own teachers e-mail us the attendance sheet for each sponsored girl. Our accountant authorizes immediate payment of $10 to the family if the girl had perfect attendance. The stipend is based only on attendance, not on school performance.

If the girl does not have perfect attendance, she will not be paid that month and look into reasons for these absenses. If absences persist, our counselor will travel to the village to meet the girl and her family and provide guidance to help the family keep their daughter in school.

To insure the integrity of the program, we conduct spot checks by surveying fellow classmates and penalize teachers for any dishonesty with a reduction of their salary.

In addition to the regular school curriculum, participants of the Girls Be Ambitious program receive healthcare training which aims to teach the girls how to take care of their own health as well as that of their family members and provide basic health education for girls who would like to pursue future careers in the health field.

Anyone wishing to be a sponsor of a needy girl, who will attend school for one year, can contribute by check, credit card or wire transfer.  $120 supports the stipend of a girl for one school year.  We welcome additional donations to support the healthcare training program and the work of our counselors.

Contributions are tax deductible in the United States. World Assistance for Cambodia is registered as a non-profit organization and recognized by the IRS as a 501 (c) (3) organization for U.S. tax deductibility.

Donations by credit card and PayPal can be made through our secure portal on our website.

Checks can be issued to World Assistance for Cambodia and mailed to:

World Assistance for Cambodia

4-1-7-605 Hiroo

Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (150-0012) Japan

or

World Assistance for Cambodia

P.O. Box 2716

New York, NY 10116

Bank wire funds should be sent to the account of: World Assistance for Cambodia, Ridgewood Savings Bank, Queens Blvd. and 108 Street, Forest Hills, N.Y. 11375. Account number: 1539618; Tracking number: 226071033. Please add $10 to the donation amount to cover the incoming wire charge so we can receive and apply your full donation.  Please advise us by e-mail at bernie@media.mit.edu, fax (in the US: 1-212-658-9419; in Japan: 03-3486-6789) or by postal mail to one of the World Assistance for Cambodia addresses listed above when you have transferred funds.