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Restoring life and dignity

COVID-19 Update: May 15, 2020

Cambodia has had no new COVID-19 cases reported for 30 days straight. Total confirmed cases are 122 as of Tuesday May 12th. 121 cases have been cured and discharged from hospital and only 1 still active.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO), Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Minister of Health have called on the public to remain cautious about COVID-19. They reminded the community that a second wave of the virus is a “real threat”.

Furthermore, Cambodia’s key economic pillars, tourism and garment industries have all been hit severely with several hundred thousand formal and informal workers being affected in this sector alone.

More than 180 factories in Cambodia have suspended operations while another 60 are at risk of closure. The situation impacts 200,000 garment workers directly and two million others indirectly according to Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).

The government is reassessing the cost of assistance to laid-off garment workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as it braces itself to spend more on rising unemployment according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Religious gatherings, schools, casinos and entertainment venues also remain closed.

Although schools remain closed, the Government continues to provide online teaching and learning. Some of our clients don’t have a smartphone or can’t access the internet which makes studying difficult. More recently the Government also introduced a distance e-learning program on TV. However, our clients in remote villages do not have access to this.

Due to the warnings from the Government and WHO, the counselors are still unable to physically visit their clients, so they continue to rely on phone counseling.

On a more positive note, we are seeing the level of stress and anxiety of some clients reduce due the COVID-19 situation easing.

Survivor in Focus

Kakada is 22 years old, living in Phnom Penh. He returned to live with his mother and stepfather about a year ago. He currently studies International Business Management at the local university.

Kakada also loves to run own business rather than work for others. He was selling some second hand products (bells and bags) online when he had free time from studying. His business went really well and he could make money to support his living costs and study. However, things became extremely challenging and he had to stop his business in April due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Unfortunately, the supplier that he sourced his second hand items from had to shut down.

Since his school and business have been closed, Kakada stays at home with his mother. His mother is able to give him some daily food and he also gets some support from his friends from church. He is helping his mother with the house chores and doing self study at home. Kakada said:

“It is a difficult time for me as I am an adult. I really don’t want to depend on others as they are also in a difficult time as the result of the coronavirus outbreak. I feel concerned [that] when the school re-opens and my business is still not working that I need to pay for stationaries, research and food.”

The case manager has assessed his needs and Hagar is going to provide emergency support including a food package and hygiene materials to Kakada for 3 months from May to July. The case manager will reassess his needs after this period. Kakada expressed: “I am happy that Hagar is going to support me during this hard time. Thank you very much for thinking of me and helping me!”

Hagar pursues the highest degree of care and protection for each of its clients. To protect the identity of our clients, names have been changed and images do not necessarily represent the individual profiled.

COVID-19 Update: April 28, 2020

We asked our teams on the ground in Cambodia to provide us with some updates in their regions that we could provide to everyone.

They were kind enough to give us very informative answers to some questions we had below.

What impact are you experiencing from COVID-19 in your country, since your last update?

– There is no new case of coronavirus in Cambodia over these last two weeks. Total confirmed cases are 122 as of Tuesday 28 April. 119 (98%) cases have been cured and discharged from hospital. 3 (2%) cases are active cases.
– Ministry of Health officials continued to urge caution and stringent vigilance against the disease due to the possibility of asymptomatic carriers.
– The religious gatherings are still ban. The schools, casinos and entertainment places are remaining close.
– Up to 130 factories have thus far submitted notices requesting for suspension and these will impact up 100,000 workers, government official said on 27th April.
– The government official said Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing transmissions worldwide. A second wave can occur at any instance.

What has the impact of COVID-19 been on Hagar survivors and other Hagar project beneficiaries, since your last update?

– Some clients who are required regular medication and treatment reported that the price of medicines are increasing due to the situation of the Covid-19.
– Some other clients are starting to lose their job and income because some businesses cannot be run as usual.
– The Covid-19 situation continues to impact on our clients’ emotion, basic needs and economic.
– The impacts of Covid-19 on Hagar clients are mostly the same from the last update due to ongoing situation of Covid-19.

What has been the impact of COVID-19 on the ability to deliver Hagar’s core work, since your last update?

– Since there is no new case of Covid-19 during the last two weeks, there are some exceptions for travel of Hagar Cambodia staff as following: Delivering emergency support, facilitation clients’ movement, providing materials (hygiene kits) and information about Covid-19, and facilitating small business options and employment opportunities. High precaution must be maintained during the travel and all staff have to exercise safety procedure for preventing Covid-19 when traveling to communities.
– The team connected to 41 clients, 6 foster families and 2 employers over the past week.
– Last week, our lawyer and counsellor were able to support a client and her family in a court hearing in the province.
– The case managers continue to conduct assessment with clients and their families to identify needs and provide emergency support based on their needs.
– Our EE colleagues coordinated with supplier on a clean water project for a family in the remote area who couldn’t access to clean water. Finally, this project was successfully completed and two clients and their mother can access to clean water from the well. They can also use the water from the well for their day-to-day living, gardening and raising animals.
– Hagar Cambodia also works with our partners to mobilize resources to support our clients. Recently, we received 150 protective cloth masks from Center for Global Impact Cambodia and 200 posters of Covid-19 for educating our beneficiaries from Save the Children.

Can you please provide us with one survivor story that details some of the impacts you have indicated in question 2 or 3?

Champa is 17 years old. She is also a young mother of a 2-year-old daughter, who is the result of rape from when she was 14. Her court case has been ongoing and Hagar team has been providing support to her in this process.

Her court case was supposed to happen in early April; however, her case had to postpone until the end of April due to Covid-19 outbreak in Cambodia. Champa was unhappy about the delay because she always wanted her court proceeding to finish. Recently, Hagar lawyer and counselor visited and provided legal support to Champa in the courtroom and counselling to ensure that she felt emotionally supported.

Champa said, “I am thankful that both Hagar’s staff dedicated their time to support my court proceeding and emotional support to me, I would not be able to do it without a clear court proceeding explanation.” Due to the outbreak of Covid-19, she also wished Hagar staff travelling back with safety.

Although, the Covid-19 is a global threat and challenge, the survivors’ justice is still one of Hagar’s top priorities.

Note: The name of the client has been changed to protect client’s identity.

COVID-19 Update: April 13, 2020

As at Monday, April 6th, there were 114 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Cambodia. The government is keeping a close eye on the situation and last week they made the decision to cancel all Khmer New Year celebrations (traditionally Khmer New Year is one of the largest festivals in Cambodia and the whole week is a dedicated to the public holiday). This decision was made to prevent the spread of COVID-19 into local communities. The Prime Minister has also said that the estimated 50,000 Cambodians who have traveled back home from neighboring countries are being closely monitored and placed in quarantine where possible. The government has instructed all NGO’s to freeze their intake of new clients to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Our Hagar staff continue to work from the office, however, instead of travelling to meet existing clients, staff now connect with clients over the phone and via messenger. Hagar’s Case Managers follow up with clients once a week and are working to ensure that clients understand how to protect themselves from COVID-19 by providing regular information based on local government and WHO guidelines.

COVID-19 is also having an impact on Hagar’s clients and their families. Some have said that they are experiencing feelings of isolation and depression and others have lost their jobs and incomes (or fear they soon will). There is a general feeling of anxiety and fear as to what will happen to their financial and living situations should COVID-19 spread. Hagar’s Case Managers and Economic Empowerment team are working together to provide advice and emergency support to the clients and families who have lost their job and income.

Hagar client, Mesa has been a recipient of this income support recently. She is 25 years old and a school teacher. With the Cambodian government closing schools in the middle of March to prevent the spread of the virus, Mesa lost her job and income. As a result,  one of our Hagar Case Managers have been working with Mesa to support her through this time, educate her about COVID-19, help her develop a safety plan and identify her basic needs during the crisis. Now Hagar is supporting her family through rent and daily food support.

Mesa said:

“I feel warm and supported as my case manager calls me regularly and works with me closely. Thank you very much Hagar for supporting me during this difficult situation. Without the support, it will be difficult for me as well as my brother and sister.”

Mesa’s story is an example of the fact that while the way Hagar staff deliver their services has changed, the core mission of transforming lives and walking the journey with people hasn’t.


Emerging from the ravages of conflict and relatively recent genocide, Cambodia is a country with rich cultural heritage and at the same time, deep inter-generational trauma. With an estimated 256,800 people living in modern slavery, it has the highest prevalence of slavery in the world after North Korea and Uzbekistan. Domestic and gender-based violence are prevalent, with a recent UNICEF report revealing that one in five Cambodian men between the ages of 18 and 49 admitted to perpetrating rape.

Hagar works directly with people who are the human face of these harrowing statistics to provide healing, justice, and freedom from fear. At the individual level, we ensure they have a safe place to live, and loving foster families to care for children in the community. We provide them with trauma counselling, medical care and legal advice to help them understand their rights and seek justice. They have the opportunity to go to school, learn vocational skills or gain a university degree. Ultimately, they are supported to secure a job so they can live independently.

At the national level, we work closely with the Royal Government of Cambodia to increase capacity within provincial and national ministries, as well as police to sustain this life-changing work in their country. We also developed a toolkit for legal professionals, which is now being used across the country to ensure that children who have survived abuse are not re-traumatized during the legal process. We are currently working in close collaboration with First Step Cambodia, to support the government in developing Cambodia’s first set of social work standards. Whatever info that will be on HI site.

Learn more about how our work in Cambodia is changing lives.

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