Panha* worked hard on a farm in Cambodia, but he worried his earnings weren't enough for him to make ends meet. After a broker approached him, he wondered if he could make more money as a fisherman in Thailand.
Like the hundreds of thousands of Cambodians who migrate in search of work each year, Panha’s motivation was simple: “The jobs in Thailand are better, so I decided to go.” That decision nearly cost him his life. He was only 16.
At least 87.1 percent of fishermen in Thailand experience some form of exploitation and/or trafficking in their work at sea.
On the fishing boat, Panha often worked more than 12 hours at a time. He received only two meals a day and faced physical violence when he fell asleep. “If I was sleeping, the broker would pour water on me many times,” Panha recounts.
Unfortunately the worst was yet to come. One day, Panha's right hand was injured by a machine on the boat, leading to it being amputated at a local hospital.
Still, Panha returned to the boat to work, hoping to claim money he had earned but not been paid. Then, he faced yet another injustice: Panha’s promised salary was slashed from the equivalent of about $442 to less than $6.
Your support helps IJM work with survivors like Panha to bring their traffickers to justice. You also help provide aftercare programs that restore survivors and help them begin to rebuild.
Unable to do his job because of his injury, Panha returned to Cambodia — but never received his salary. IJM provided legal aid, and eventually the perpetrator in Panha’s case was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay $4,800 as compensation.
IJM supporters also helped provide livelihood support and equipment so Panha can realize his dream of building his own home. Despite his disability, he continues to work on a local farm. He’s even started building a small grocery store in his village with livelihood support from IJM.
“When I lost my hand, I lost all my dreams,” Panha says. “But when IJM has helped me, I feel there’s still hope.”