AFESIP Cambodia 

Acting for Women in Distressing Situations 

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You can find Dalin,* a soft spoken, timid 23 year old graduate of Tom Dy Center, who laughs shyly at herself, washing, cutting or styling a customer’s hair at an inconspicuous salon snuggled between a pharmacy and a clothes shop at a bustling intersection in central Phnom Penh.
To those none the wiser it looks any other hair salon, but it is in fact a salon of

a reintegrated woman and most of the women there are training.

The salon offers graduates of AFESIP center a stepping stone into independent living.  Dalin chose to move to the salon to go through her training after she left Tom Dy. Living, working and earning in a real business environment with real customers,  she then went on to become full time staff.

“I went to Tom Dy when I was 19 years old.  I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t know anyone there so it was daunting for me, but thanks to support from the AFESIP staff and the other survivors, I found myself settling in quickly. Tom Dy is so peaceful; it’s easy to feel calm and safe there.  When I was a child I reached grade 5 at school so at Tom Dy I continued learning Khmer Literature, but also learned Small Business Management and took Life Skills classes.  


I felt ready enough after just six months so I left Tom Dy and moved to the hairdressers'.  I was nervous but this was an exciting opportunity for me and I was made to feel very welcome there.  I trained for three months, but when that came to an end, they decided they wanted me to stay and work for them full time and I’ve been working here now for 3 years.  I didn’t have problems with the skills training, but I was glad of this safe environment to build my soft skills like self confidence.

There are 6 of us working and living here and we are like a family.  If I ever have any difficulties I can turn to the head hairdresser and she is our trainer and mentor. 

She is married and also just had her second baby so she is really a role model for me.  Even now, AFESIP still checks up on me and makes sure I’m okay.

In my free time I like to read magazines.  We spend most of our free time here at the salon trying out hairstyles on each other, and occasionally we will all go out together.  I am happy now. I have a skill and I earn my own money and I can even send half of it back to my mom in my home province. One day in the future I will own my own hair salon.”

*Name has been changed

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