AIM and The CNN Freedom Project

cnnfp fb image-02-02-01The CNN Freedom Project aired a special documentary called “Every Day in Cambodia”. It had such a tremendous international response that CNN will be airing a special showing on their US Nationwide station February 9th at 7pm Eastern, 4pm Pacific.

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For more information on the documentary, “Every Day in Cambodia,” or to read a recent article by CNN, please click HERE.


Why I said, “Yes,” to The CNN Freedom Project

by Don Brewster, CEO of AIM

We held hands as we sat on our couch in the suburbs of California. Our jaws were slack, tears raining down our cheeks by the conclusion of the news report, which explained the sale of little girls in Svay Pak, Cambodia to men who raped and tortured them.

My wife turned off the television and looked at me. “Did you have any idea when we were walking the streets of Phnom Penh last week that this was going on?” she asked.

“No,” I answered. “But now that we know the truth, we have to go back. We have to do something.”

That was 8 years ago and my wife, Bridget, and I have lived in Cambodia ever since. We started Agape International Missions’ (AIM) anti-trafficking work with a single Restoration Home for 20 girls. Now, AIM has 10 projects on the ground that impact over 10,000 people a year.

Early in 2013, AIM was approached by CNN to be interviewed for a mini-documentary for The CNN Freedom Project. Where most people would expect that to be a no-brainer, there can be a fine line between informative reporting and sensationalized journalism. At AIM, we take each young woman’s right to confidentiality very seriously because we are in the business of freeing people from exploitation and the last thing we want is to exploit anyone’s story, even if is a story of miraculous restoration. Her rescue is her own. As such, it is hers to share or not, however she sees fit. At the same time however, quality reporting that sheds light on the issue and spurs more people to commit to the fight against human trafficking is vital in this work.

“The Women Who Sold Their Daughters Into Sex Slavery” – CNN Report

I sat at my desk, reading through the email from CNN, wondering if I should agree to an interview or not. I vacillated between the pros and cons thinking it would be easier to just decline and get back to work.

Then, like a flash, I remembered the scene in my living room years earlier. I had just returned from a place where children were being bought and sold for sex. I had walked through an airport where international pedophiles came and went in order to exploit the poorest and most unprotected. I rode a moto down streets where pimps were soliciting customers and traffickers were hawking child pornography. I was surrounded by the most egregious human rights issue of our time and never even saw it. I did not know the truth until it was exposed on that television report weeks later.

Knowing the truth moved me to action.

We hope The CNN Freedom Project will do the same thing for others. And, speaking candidly from the ground war on trafficking, we desperately need more recruits in the battle. The truth is that despite great strides made in the fight, the problem of sex trafficking in Cambodia remains huge and there are more girls who want to escape than there are places for them to go.

The interviews are finished and every young woman who shared was not asked but volunteered because she wanted her story told. These restored, empowered young women want to be seen and heard. They are asking for people to look into their eyes and listen to the truth. Some listeners may object to hearing their stories thinking they are too sad to be repeated. But they aren’t just egregious stories, they are true stories of egregious evil. What happened to them was awful and they want the horrors known so the exploitation will stop. They want more people to know so they can do something to help other girls who are still trapped. How can this atrocity be obliterated if they are silenced?

Truth brings freedom. I have seen truth free a battered and broken child who used to believe lies about her worth because of what happened to her. But in order for truth to win out, it must be spoken out.

I am believing that exposing the truth of what is happening every day in Cambodia through The CNN Freedom Project documentary will help to do just that.