Growing up in a po
or rural community in Cambodia, Nhean* was the youngest child of five. When he was very young his mother died. His stepmother raised him and the whole family worked as recyclers or “rubbish collectors.” Nhean would help support his family by coming into the city to shine shoes at the market.
While he was working as a shoe shine boy, he became friends with another boy living on the street. The boy took him to meet “the foreigner” at his home.
This American pedophile targeted many young vulnerable boys. He would offer them special food and outings to entice them into staying with him. He would take boys to the shopping mall, to go skating and play arcade games. All experiences Thy had never had, but longed for. At first this relationship was just friendship, but it progressed into sexual favors that the man demanded.
One day, the police and staff from an investigating organization came to arrest the pedophile. Thy was taken to the police station. Later he was transferred to the care of Hagar Cambodia.
At first, Nhean was very angry and upset. He didn’t want to live in a shelter and refused to speak with staff. He had daily conflicts with other boys. On one occasion he ran away with a boy, who had also been rescued. Nhean felt so much shame and pain.
After about eight months at Hagar, Nhean became more comfortable and started to focus more on his studies. Thy expressed to his counselor that he felt he had no value and that his life was hopeless. He began to trust his counselor and connect with his caring, patient foster mother. His nightmares decreased and his relationship with his peers improved.
Having never attended school before, Nhean is currently in grade two and is determined to complete grade twelve. Now, at age 15, Nhean is gaining confidence through Hagar’s Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy program to tell his story and participate in court proceedings within the United States. He is making great progress in Hagar’s Boy’s project.