“I decided to return to Cambodia because I did not like how they deceived me. I stopped trusting them”

Teum Mom

Teum Mom’s story

Teum Mom’s story might not be considered a successful one from the point of view of income generation for her and her family, but, when it comes to safe migration, success also means to be able to stand up for your rights and back out of the job deal before it is too late.

At least that is what this 41 year old mom of two thinks when she proudly describes what she experienced as a migrant to Thailand. “I wanted a better future for my children, she explains, so I trusted some people without asking too much”. Teum Mom did not seek assistance from any agency, broker or intermediary. She just made the decision to travel to the neighbouring country, giving for granted that she would find what she had been promised: a job in a Thai factory. “Because I knew the people, and I knew that they were already working at the factory, I thought it was as easy as to set foot on Thailand and start working”, she recalls. But she soon found out that the deal she was promised had turned into a completely different one. She now knows that “all these people were trying to exploit me, because the job at the factory did not exist, they wanted me to work as a cleaner for a family”.

Teum Mom stayed one week in Thailand waiting for the “misunderstanding” to be clarified, but, after a week, she realised that the situation would not change and that she had only one option: to accept the cleaning deal or leave the host country and her dream to exit poverty. “I decided to return to Cambodia because I did not like how they deceived me. I stopped trusting them”, she admits. Teum Mom looks even more proud when she confesses her decision of never going back to Thailand again.

Teum Mom’s testimony is an example of how Cambodian migrants are progressively more aware of their labour rights and safe migration practices. Through the EU co-funded projects MIG-RIGHT and the RIGHT-TO-WORK, WeWorld-GVC and its partners are supporting communities in increasing their awareness on their labour rights and the need to follow legal paths for safe migration.

Her first-hand experience is also crucial to create peer knowledge at her home commune in the western Cambodia province of Battambang. Teum Mom is just one example of the many migrants who return to share their story. Five months ago, when she came back from Thailand, she was invited by the project focal point and is now a regular member of the self-help group that MIG-RIGHT has established and supports in her community. “I think it is important that I share my experience if it helps others avoid becoming victims of exploitation and abuse”, she concludes.

Read more about the situation of Cambodian women migrant workers in Thailand