"Often what's left out of the sex trafficking discussion in the human element," Pond said, speaking Thursday in the Cyber Café at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies.
So Pond is on the road with two Cambodian sex-trade survivors in an attempt to give them their voices back. Pond co-founded along with his wife, Athena, Transitions Global, a non-profit organization that provides comprehensive aftercare services to girls between the ages of 13-19 year olds who have been sexually trafficked, exploited or abused.
Pond said in Cambodia an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 young girls are forced sex workers. Of those, the average age of a survivor is 15 years. Transitions Global provides trauma recovery for these girls and then assists them in becoming independent women.
"Most of these girls have never had a dream," Pond explained. "They were raised in homes where the statistics show that they will be sexually abused before age 11."
Pond put together what he calls a dream book. The dream book consists of several photographs of women of various employments so that the girls may get an idea of what they hope to become after their recovery process.
"When most clients come to this program they cannot even identify their goals," Pond said. "We teach them to be strong. That's why we have the dream book. Now they have their dream and can achieve their goals."
Now Srey Neth and Chang Liya, two graduates of Pond's program, are yoga instructors in Cambodia and are telling the world their ordeal.
"I want my voice to be heard because I am a victim of trafficking," Neth said. "I want young girls to understand that this is not a good choice for them in the future. I am so happy and so proud of myself for graduating from Transitions Global. I feel so independent because I have a job. Now I feel more hope for the future."
Liya told of when she was 15 years old a friend betrayed her and she ended up in a Cambodian brothel where she had to serve at least 10 men a day. Pond helped her transition from that life. Transitions Global provided her with English language classes and Liya took computer classes until she discovered her passion in yoga.
Pond said that his program usually lasts between 18 to 24 months, but is flexible depending on the individual girls' needs. After the girls graduate, Pond tried to do a three-year follow-up in which he continues to provide as much as he can so that they may be successful.
"Success is based on restoring a girl's dignity," Pond said.
-M. Schwinn, MA candidate in International Security
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
Human Trafficking Clinic at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies