Bieng Raiya, 21-years-old, is very different from other people his age. Instead of spending his time hanging out and having a crazy social life, he devotes his time to studying and volunteering. He has committed his life to fighting human trafficking in Cambodia, a problem that has bothered him since he was only 14-years-old.
Born in Prey Veng province, Bieng Raiya has always been a hard working student. He is now a third-year student of Sociology at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. When he isn’t studying, he is an advocacy and communication group leader of the Child Support Team at NGO Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Having seen the many problems that women face in his community where many are kidnapped and trafficked to the cities or neighbouring countries, Bieng Raya has grown frustrated with the human trafficking industry. His anger led him to join an organization called Child Peer Educator and he is now a leading anti-human-trafficking advocate.
“People in my community are poor and easily cheated to emigrate to the cities or neighbouring countries, and somehow they end up being sex workers or labourers.”
Bieng Raiya is a member of Child Peer Educator in Children and Life Association (CLA), a partner of the NGO CRC. He was trained in Phnom Penh, and now travels to other countries in the Mekong region to have more training and render more knowledge in human trafficking among activist in those countries.
“Whenever I have a project to educate people, I, myself, have to initiate new lesson in order to give an effective and efficient understanding of the issue” he says.
Most of Bieng Raiya’s training programs consist of: role-play, workshops and individual problem solving activities.
Bieng Raiya believes that you must “be thorough if you make a cart, or it will hurt your cow legs”.
“It means if you want to teach people, you have to know more than them, that’s why I have tried to learn everything there is to know about human trafficking.”
“Nothing is easy,” he said.
“Yet I have my own methods to reach people who have or have not experienced trafficking. I have to know how to identify the problem and how to convince them to say their problems so that we can work together and solve them.”
“However, I also face some obstacles since most of the victims are girls, it is hard to approach them and convince them to discuss their problems or the hardships they have been through.”
Besides devoting himself to educating people, Bieng Raiya and his group are also trying to find support from other organizations or other people to work on human trafficking issues as well.
“We are all Cambodian, so what we can do is protect them from cheaters and criminals.”
Bieng Raiya added that we can’t prevent people from migrating, but we can help them migrate safely.