An important part of AAT’s work to prevent human trafficking is related to reducing the vulnerability of girls and young women in areas where many trafficking victims come from. When a family is in financial need, often the girls migrate to find a job and support their family with the income they earn. When the girl doesn’t have any skills that improve their possibilities for getting a job with decent pay and conditions, she is very vulnerable to exploitation by traffickers, who take advantage of her immediate need and lack of knowledge on how to protect herself.
AAT recently received a letter from one of these young women; a Lao former migrant worker who had move away from home to the Lao capital of Vientiane to work for a very low pay to support her parents and siblings. She eventually quit her job and moved back home to work at the family farm but the family income was insufficient and she was at high risk for migrating unsafely again.
She came into contact with the Lao Women’s Union, who AAT works with in Laos, and they referred her to AAT who helped her attend occupational training – she wished to receive education in sewing, as that would provide her with a skill that enabled her to stay close to her family and still earn an income.
AAT works not only to provide protection and assistance to victims but also to empower women and girls to understand their potential, improve self esteem and economic opportunities and be active members of society.
Her letter is an important reminder of how important it can be to be able to study and gain a profession:
“I am so grateful to be able to study here at Uang Doi Design School. Before, I did not know how to do it. I had never made a dress. Now I can, and I am thankful to our teachers and I will use their advice to get better at my work. I will apply all the lessons I learn and make the most out of it.
I would like to wish you health and I hope all your wishes will come true.”