At the end of April,Toby Leung (梁靖琪) and a group of successful businesswomen in Hong Kong set off to Cambodia as volunteers to support the Agape International Missions (AIM). The charitable organization hopes to help child sex trafficking victims by creating safe housing and teaching survival skills. Toby hopes to rebuild the girls’ confidence and give them a new chance in life.
Last November, Toby first spoke about her visit to Cambodia to help child sex trafficking victims. Her accounts that girls as young as two years old were sold into prostitution by their own parents shocked many, but also raised awareness in how people can help.
“The plane ride from Hong Kong is only two hours, but it’s a completely different world [in Cambodia]. The rescued girls are all very pure and innocent; a little toy can make them really happy. It is hard to believe that they had experienced such trauma. Due to poverty, some two year-old girls are sold into prostitution, losing their childhood innocence at such a young age,” Toby said.
The 36-year-old actress is a big supporter of AIM because they rescue approximately 1,600 young girls from the ages of 8 to 18 every year. Aside from Toby, many other successful women joined the mission, including a member of the Hong Kong Bar Association, a jewelry brand owner, and an event planner.
Realizing the impact their efforts leave, female volunteers usually return to Cambodia for multiple missions. One of the volunteers recounted a story where a 14-year-old girl was sold, and was eventually rescued. Unfortunately, during the 22 days of waiting for help, 198 people raped her. This story always brings tears to her eyes. Another volunteer shared the story of an 8-year-old survivor who was eventually adopted in the United States and later started her own business as an adult. She now joins these types of missions to help other unfortunate young girls.
For Toby, she wants to help these girls rebuild their confidence for a fresh start in life. In her latest mission in Cambodia, Toby and other volunteers will be teaching the girls jewelry-making skills. Toby said, “AIM doesn’t only rescue girls. The most important is to teach the girls viable skills, and let them realize life is not without choices. They will have skills to survive in society and start new lives.” Toby also hopes to spread awareness to other people so that AIM can save even more girls.
According to reports, each year tens of thousands of girls are sold into prostitution in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Malissa Stock, head of AIM, said the organization rescues the girls and puts them in safe houses. They will also build schools, and hope that through education, the girls will improve future employment opportunities and not be forced into prostitution again.
This article is written by Hailey for JayneStars.com.