Frontline Stories

Empty Promises Turned Into New Hopes


Samnang, 29, lives with his widowed mother and four siblings. They used to make a living by working on their rice fields in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia.

Being the eldest, Samnang had to work harder to support his family, but his daily income was not enough to feed everyone well. One day, a friend from his village introduced him to a new job in neighbouring Thailand which promised a higher wage. Eventually, in 2010, he travelled to work in Thailand without any legal documentation.

Samnang worked as a construction worker in Bangkok. After several months, he asked about wages, however, the boss did not pay and told him to wait for 6 to 12 months.

“I thought the broker had cheated me, and I had no money to return home,” says Samnang. He spent months going from job to job in order to get a decent wage in Bangkok.

Illegal brokers introduce people to jobs abroad with a promise of higher pay. Usually, brokers target people they know, such as friends of friends and neighbours. They are great in persuading others by providing early ‘benefits’, including loans to the targets’ families, handling transportation and accommodation expenses, as well as a food allowance during relocation.

“Later, my friend and I were introduced to another job as fishermen in Indonesia,” says Samnang. “I illegally migrated to Indonesia because I expected to earn 12,000 Thai bahts (about HK$2,840) per month which could support my family.”

Both of them were transported there to work on a fishing boat. “I got up early at 5 am and took a break for lunch at 11am. I resumed working from 1pm until 5pm, and then from 6pm to 11pm. Sometimes, I had to fix nets until 3am,” Samnang recalls.

After 18 months of work, instead of earning what he had expected, Samnang saw his wages deducted by the broker without reason, as there was never a written contract in place. Samnang was cheated.

“I had wanted to run away from the boat several times, but I feared being attacked by crocodiles swimming near the boat,” Samnang says. With no money to support his family or return home, Samnang felt that hope was lost.

But later, Samsang got hold of the phone number of the Cambodian Embassy in Indonesia and was told to run away. They also had to avoid the local police who would have sent them back to the boat. One day as the boat docked near land, Samnang and several others seized an opportunity and fled to a protection camp, where illegal migrants would receive protection while waiting to be repatriated. Samnang was then flown back to Cambodia.

With the support of the Indonesian and Cambodian governments, World Vision’s End Trafficking in Persons Programme (ETIP) is partnering with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in an initiative against human trafficking which includes integrating survivors back into their home communities.

World Vision provided Samnang with counselling services to deal with the emotional impact suffered from this horrific experience. Staff also visited him at his village and guided him to earn an income in a proper way.

Through the programme, Samnang received technical skills training on fixing engines. World Vision also contributed an electric engine for him to start his own business.

“I really thank World Vision for supporting me. Now I can earn money for myself and my family in my own country,” he says.

Today, Samnang is financially stable and has a small business near his village, earning 40,000 to 60,000 riels (about HK$78 to HK$117) per day, an amount sufficient to feed his family. He is also making plans to marry his girlfriend.

Published on 23 Aug 2018

The church reinvented itself: The Foursquare Church and Quichua Church of Ecuado......

[2022/10/06] Pastor Humberto credits social media as new allies of the faith during the pandemic. The gospel that started off......

How a trained faith leader changed a community

[2022/10/06] “Pastors are now resource persons, teaching and advocating for children in the community and not just opening an......

Empowering religious leaders to become change agents

[2022/10/06] Over 300 religious leaders have been empowered to become agents of change, so they can transform the lives of ch......

Peacebuilding can Start with Children

[2022/01/21] “Peace is like our daily food, we need it as much as we need food to live well and in harmony with one another f......

East or West, Home is Best

[2022/01/21] “I’ve been running throughout my life. I’m now too old. I can’t run anymore. My only wish for my country is peac......

3D-printed Limbs Bring Students Closer to Technology and Disaster Relief

[2021/09/13] During summer 2021, 39 students from 21 secondary schools gathered at the University of Hong Kong to attend Worl......

Sharing from Global Citizen Internship Programme Interns 2021

[2021/08/19] In summer 2021, World Vision launched an Global Citizen Internship Programme and recruited local university stud......

Celebrating Families: A model for reconciliation

[2021/04/16] What is said in the Bible is still happening today in Chad, where the rights of many children are neglected by ......

After a Decade of War, Here is What Syrian Children Would Like to Say…

[2021/04/14] We meet with two Syrian boys in a refugee camp in Jordan to hear about their lives and aspirations.