There were emotional scars, too.
He felt homesick, scared and lonely a lot of the time. When he tried to return to Cambodia and could not produce his passport, the Thai police arrested and put him in jail. He lived in a cell for almost two months before he was released and was able to make his way back home.
Keeping children and youth safe
The principal of Pisey’s primary school, Sam Aun, says many students – mostly boys – dropp out of school in Grade 6 to work in Thailand. They became construction workers and are often exploited by their employers. Some lose their lives, while others became addicted to illegal drugs to keep up with the long hours they are expected to work.
Too often children leave home unaware or unprepared for the risks that await them. A major risk for vulnerable children and young people migrating to a new country is being abused or exploited during the journey or in their new jobs.
Through community resource centres and training sessions, ChildFund Cambodia is helping to raise awareness of the risks of migration and ensuring young people do not have to experience the trauma and challenges that Pisey and his family have endured.
Since the implementation of ChildFund Cambodia’s safe migration project in 2018, many families in remote and rural communities now have access to information on how to prepare for migration and how to stay safe during and after the process.
People like Pisey who have returned to Cambodia are being provided with medical assistance, counselling and support to resettle back into their communities.
Today, Pisey is 29 years old and shares his story with children and young people in his community to ensure they do not go experience the same trauma he suffered.
For Norng Samen, the return of her son and knowing that he is now safe and sound has lightened a heavy heart.
“I am so happy that he is back,” Norng Samen says.