Oh, where to begin.
If you had read my blog about my first trip to Phnom Penh you may recall the eye opening experience I had - I had the opportunity to meet some children who live in the slums and are receiving some support from Riverkids as well as some women in the sex trade who shared with me many shocking answers to a private interview session such as many of their foreign clients refuse to wear condoms and are aggressive with them. AIDS is high risk to these girls and the men who bed them.
Since my first trip was affected by the food poisoning that I received from Raffles Hotel I had vowed to my group of Get ready Girls that I would return.
Riverkids Get Ready Girls was the group I went to teach hair & makeup workshops to.This time I was able to spend more time with the girls for a solid 2.5 days of beauty - hair & makeup workshops to young girls at high risk for being put into the sex trade / human trafficking.
I started with a few braided updos and encouraged them to not give up if it is their first attempt at French braiding, but then those whiz kids did this:
I asked for a little lesson from them on how to do this fab 'pumpkin braid' as they called it via translator.
It is rare for families who live in the slums to have electricity so I showed the girls how to do these updos without the use of heat. Notice the sock buns in the centre picture?
FYI: I hope that I was a good enough teacher that these girls could duplicate these hairstyles, but aside from the Bunheads, all of these updos were done by me demoing to the girls. My biggest tip for anyone tackling an updo: isolate your areas.
Sock buns! These girls loved perfecting it - some not without frustrations. Practice makes perfect buns.
I gave them a little pep talk on starting a business; four of my eleven girls are motivated to run a beauty salon - I predict successful ones as these girls were naturals - hopefully the girls and their families see the value in what they can do.It's not uncommon to see roadside barbers.
Life is from far from beautiful in Cambodia. These two kids grabbing a snack in the rain are trash collectors looking for bottles and cans to trade for money in order to help feed their families. I can't tell you how filthy the streets of Phnom Penh are; notice one boy is without shoes. It breaks my heart. These innocent little boys can one day be whisked into the human trafficking world or perhaps drug dealers, even pimps.
One night, on the way to dinner we saw a mother with three young children at the side of the main road. The mother had built a cardboard hut on the sidewalk with old chairs and boxes; she was lounging on a chair while at her side stood a naked toddler, his siblings not much older playing on the road. Roughly one hour later, we were in a tuk tuk returning to the hotel passing that same corner. The mother and two older ones were gone - nowhere to be seen. Left standing was the naked toddler. Still horrified when I arrived to my Get Ready Girls class the next day I asked the teacher who had been translating for me about this. Apparently this is common practice. She told me that the mother is probably hoping he gets taken or hit by a car.
No words. It still haunts me.
Organizations like Riverkids offer programs for boys too - Get Ready Boys, but we also stumbled upon (actually it was Google) that had listed Friends as one of the top ten restaurants in Phnom Penh which turns out to be a vocational training restaurant for street youth.
BTW, they have amazing cookbooks for purchase. Click
"The Friends Programs ensure that all children and youth are protected from risks and abuse and support children to go to school, young people to find gainful employment and families to be able to support their own children.
In order to achieve this, the Friends Programs have developed a holistic social integration cycle of projects that are implemented directly or in collaboration with partners to respond in the most effective way to every person's needs." Friends-International.org
My boutique hotel that I adored; first, no food poisoning; second (which is really a major first) - the owner has been known to physically remove patrons who bring in sex trade workers. That sent shivers through my body as well as confirmed any future trip to Phnom Penh would result in my staying at The Pavilion Hotel.
Please allow me to thank:
Faz Abdul Gaffa - my BFF who tagged along last minute giving a helping hand as well as ate a tarantula at Rumdeng, part of the Friends International program. [Just to clarify: eating the spider is not part of the program - the restaurant that serves it is]MAC Cosmetics for their continued support and donating makeup kits for each girl.
Maybelline Singapore for also providing each girl with a kit of makeup.Luxola for their beauty box full of various products for the girls to play with.
AccessCom for sending a box of magazines and bottles of Bio-Oil.
And various individuals for sending brushes and treats for the girls.All was shared and received with smiles.
**Tourists please reconsider hiring a sex trade worker in Asia. Most likely these are girls without the choice taken or sold into crime. And as much as you may think a ping pong show in Thailand is intriguing to watch, I can assure that no little girl dreams of growing up and shooting ping pongs or birds out of their vaginas.