Last week in Phnom Penh I had the privilege of training over 200 doctors, nurses, social workers, and other hospital staff about health and human trafficking at Sihanouk Hospital Center of Hope. This hospital, together with Hope Worldwide, recognize that caring for the broken and traumatized starts with patient reception and customer service and carries on up through hospital administration. Although most of the attendees were physicians and nurses, representatives from other departments also participated in the workshop. The training took two classes of approximately 100 participants per class – each class consisted of two 4-hour sessions.
The workshop covered the basics of human trafficking and exploitation, particularly as it is in Cambodia and Southeast Asia. We then covered the physical and mental health consequences before moving into trauma-informed care. The final section of the training covered how to care for yourself in the process of caring for the broken in order to prevent burnout and secondary trauma. The latter topic is often overlooked but is perhaps the most important part and I include it whenever I can. It was well received.
It may surprise you that people in Southeast Asia actually have very little awareness about the abuse, exploitation, and human trafficking in their country. From a Western perspective, it seems so prevalent, how could they miss it? Even if they have heard of human trafficking, they know very little about it or the scope of it in their country. I do believe some eyes were opened last week.
Furthermore, to teach health care professionals that they have an important and specific role to play in addressing the exploitation and trauma around them is another breakthrough. At the end of the sessions I was asked when I was going to return to teach more and go deeper with them. There are people hungry and passionate to do something about it.
As I said, we all have a part. This trip was sponsored by people who recognize the need to involve health professionals in the fight against slavery and to equip them with the proper skills to do it. Perhaps you could be the one to sponsor the next training.