Ricky Martin Visits IOM Cambodia Counter-Trafficking Project
International pop star Ricky Martin travelled to Cambodia in March
2008 to learn first hand about IOM's activities in the fight
against child trafficking and sexual exploitation. "This is a
fact-finding mission for us," said Angel Saltos, executive director
of the Ricky Martin Foundation. "He wanted to see for himself."
During his week-long visit, Ricky met with IOM Chief of Mission
Iuliana Stefan and later travelled to the remote
Cambodia–Vietnam border district of Kompong Ro with Project
Coordinator John McGeoghan and Minister of Women's Affairs Dr. Ing
Kantha Phavi to find out about IOM's holistic counter-trafficking
prevention activities, and to meet victims and local villagers.
The project, which is funded by Finland and implemented in close
cooperation with the Cambodian Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA),
addresses the trafficking of child beggars to Vietnam.
It provides awareness-raising to vulnerable villagers, basic
legal training to the local authorities, agricultural training and
technical support to poor farmers and has implemented a village
banking system and an emergency fund.
In partnership with the Provincial Department of Education Youth
and Sport, it has also established a vocational training centre to
train victims and vulnerable young women in garment factory sewing
skills linked to real jobs in the province and in Phnom Penh.
Having traveled the 200 km from Phnom Penh to Kampong Ro, Ricky
visited the IOM-sponsored public-private linked sewing skills
vocational training centre, where he met with the director and
centre staff and chatted with the trainees.
"Exchanging stories with the girls and boys that attend the
vocational training was enlightening. In their smiles, the
Foundation witnessed true hope and felt reassured that they are
receiving skills in order to have a better future. It also prevents
them from falling prey to exploitation," said Ricky.
In the past two years, nearly 500 trainees have passed through
the centre and most are now in full-time employment.
The Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF later joined villagers in
community awareness raising activities focusing on the dangers of
irregular migration and the illegality of child trafficking for
begging in Vietnam.
Ricky enjoyed meeting the villagers and spent an hour
distributing T-shirts and hats to local children. He also spent
time with destitute villagers receiving emergency assistance and
social services from IOM-UNICEF trained social workers.
"Creating awareness campaigns is essential to win the fight
against child trafficking. With this visit, we reaffirmed that
educational campaigns between different sectors of society and with
a call to action component are powerful. I am convinced that
solutions organically flourish if we work in alliances," added
At midday he settled down with villagers for a local lunch and
afterward worked up a sweat learning traditional Rom-Vong dancing
from local villagers and the Minister of Women's Affairs.
"Dancing was amazing, lots of fun... Music and philanthropy
reconnects humanity," concluded the Goodwill Ambassador to
The Ricky Martin Foundation advocates for the well-being of
children around the globe in critical areas such as social justice,
education and health. People for Children, their flagship
programme, condemns child exploitation.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ricky
Martin Foundation (RMF) have signed a global cooperation agreement
aimed at raising awareness and combating the sexual exploitation
and trafficking of children. The global agreement will allow IOM
and RMF to put in place joint projects to combat human trafficking
all over the world, with special emphasis on children and