Achariya: Seamstress & Mother
Filed Under: Aftercare, Blog, Cambodia, Reintegration, Success Stories
HER FUTURE IS HERS
Reintegration Success Stories
It is late in the day, and the warm light streams into the building from the low hanging sun, lighting up the table where her eyes are fixed. They narrow as she focuses intently on guiding the scissors through the precise cardboard pattern she has just drawn. It’s hard to say how many jeans Achariya has completed for the premium denim brand she now works for. The process is meticulous, but she focuses on quality over quantity, and it took years of training before Achariya, and others like her, gained all the skills needed to create jeans that are up to scratch for selling in high-end fashion stores internationally. “Before, I couldn’t imagine that I could do this, but I am so proud of myself,” she shares. “I am so happy because I can make fashion jeans.”
Looking back, Achariya tells us that things were not always easy for her. She was born in a village and her family was very poor. “When the rainy season came, it was very hard because our roof had many holes in it and we would spend the night moving from one spot to another trying to find a dry place to sleep,” she shared. Being the eldest of her nine siblings, the responsibility of supporting the family fell on her shoulders. “I never got enough sleep. I would go fishing with my father early in the morning and I would always get to sleep late. We lived day by day. If we didn’t go to work, if we didn’t get fish, we wouldn’t have food for that day.”
Poverty and lack of educational opportunities led Achariya, as with many young Cambodians like her, to make the hard choice to leave her village behind in search of work to support her family. All these factors created a perfect storm for exploitation, and by the young age of 15, Achariya was rescued from a karaoke bar in the city. Achariya came into the care of Destiny Rescue shortly after and began to open up when she realized that she was in a safe place, full of people who loved and cared for her. It was here, in Destiny Rescue’s care, that Achariya was finally able to be a kid again. Many treasured memories were made when Achariya was living at Restore Home. “We always went somewhere together every month. My favorite activities were the parties and eating cake,” she laughs.
It was in this time, in and amongst all the fun, that Achariya started to take the first steps along the path that have led her to where she is today. “I started to have the dream of being a seamstress when I was with Destiny Rescue,” she shared. The aftercare team heard of Achariya’s dream and came alongside her to equip her to achieve this. “I had a good boss and was able to work at Destiny Café part-time to earn money while I was studying sewing. They also encouraged me to apply for the job that I now have.” It was ultimately Achariya’s own perseverance and determination to achieve this dream that made it a reality.
Achariya was with Destiny Rescue for five years. Since then, she has gone from strength to strength. Achariya is one of the longest-standing employees among the team of talented people she works alongside, and is considered one of their more experienced staff members who can complete every piece that makes up a single pair of jeans. “I know how to use many machines and how to make patterns now,” she tells us. “I like to sew all the different parts but I enjoy sewing the leg edge of the jeans because it is the easiest part to sew for me.” Here, Achariya safely earns a living wage which means she can support herself and her family. “It’s exciting when I finish a pair of jeans because when I show my production manager he will have a look and he will tell me that I did a great job or that I did it well which is very encouraging for me to hear,” says Achariya. “It helps me to work harder.” Achariya is one of many girls who has come through Destiny Rescue’s program and has since gone on to flourish at this workplace.
As we look around the high-end denim brand’s production house, we see framed photographs lining the walls that capture not only the staff, but the story of a deep family bond that can be felt through every room. But for Achariya, this isn’t her only family. “I got married in 2015 and now I have a daughter who is nearly three years old.” The story is not over yet for Achariya. She has a vision for her future and hopes to utilize all the experience and skills to one day open a sewing shop of her own where she will also sell drinks and snacks!
25 years old now, Achariya can look back at her life and her time with Destiny Rescue and observe all the milestones she has achieved in the last ten years. She can see the small stepping stones that have guided and formed her into who she is today. “When I was with Destiny Rescue, I received much love and care. I was always encouraged and learned how to encourage myself and others around me,” she shares. “I also got to know Jesus and I learned that I was valuable to God.” Looking back, Achariya can see the value and importance of having the opportunity to learn a vocational skill and the role it played in her restoration process. “I learned a new skill-set and how to use many different machines that enabled me to get a good job and a better salary.”
As our time with Achariya draws to a close, she warmly shakes our hands and says goodbye with a bright smile and happily gets on her bike after finishing another day of work. The light hum of ceiling fans and foot pedals tapping away in the next room fades as we walk back out into the whirl of the busy, hot, Cambodian street.
This is the hope Destiny Rescue has for all the girls who come through our program, like Achariya, we want to see each girl build resilience and not just exist – but thrive – in her community and live out a life that she has chosen for herself. Our role as an organization is to listen, hear what these girls dream of doing, and try opening as many doors as we can for them so they can become self-sufficient and equipped to make a good living for themselves in something they are truly passionate about.
*Her name has been changed to protect her identity
This approach to freedom and holistic care is at the core of our mission. In order to provide this kind of intentional and individualized assistance, we need an army of supporters who are with us for the long game. Becoming a Rescue Partner is your chance to join us and make the biggest impact in a lasting way. Your continued support will be the reason another amazing girl is able to be free and pursue her dreams!