Danish Red Cross Cambodia – Because it makes sense

“The villagers say that if a family has a house with a roof of iron and a motorbike, then they are rich. If a family has a house with a roof of hay and no cows, then they are poor”. The poorest families can get a free toilet from Danish Red Cross. We post the names of the poor people on Village Chiefs house. And then people in the village can complaint if they don’t agree. They say -hi you forgot me- or that guy is Village Chief’s cousin. I am sure he has a motor bike – so he might only get a toilet with financial subsidies”, says Jytte Roswall. She has been working for Danish Red Cross in Cambodia since 2005.


Human Trafficking

As Country Coordinator in Cambodia for the Danish Red Cross Jytte Roswall supports and monitors the Danish Red Cross’ activities in the country including three programmes. These are community based health, disaster preparedness, and as the newest human trafficking.

 “We chose to work with human trafficking because it is a big problem also in Cambodia. But also because the Danish Red Cross already has good experiences from a similar regional program in Eastern Europe”, says Jytte Roswall. The programme has been running for about a year. Red Cross has set up a network of volunteers in the three provinces where the programme is supposed to run. So far the Red Cross has worked with raising awareness about human trafficking within 50 villages as well as within the Red Cross. “The Cambodian Red Cross had no clear understanding of human trafficking when we started”, she says.
“We have selected to work in a province in the north on the boarder to Thailand where it is mainly sexual exploitation that is the risks and then a province further south where men are trafficked into fishing boats and never come back or never get their salary. Then we have selected a province at the boarder of Vietnam where a major problem is woman and children who are forced in to begging in Ho Chi Minh City”, Jytte Roswall explains.
In all of these areas part of the work is to raise awareness of the risk, about people’s rights and the risk they are running then migrating to work.“It’s a bit like walking in a mine field. People know that thy are running a risk, but they haven’t thought about what will happen if they end up in a situation they cannot get out off. That is where we hope to be able to help. People need to know their rights and which options they have if they end in this situation”.
The Red Cross is well know for its method of tracing and supporting reunification of people for example lost from family members during the Khmer Rouge, which they are hoping to transfer to cases of human trafficking. “We are currently reuniting family members who lost each other during and after the Khmer Rouge. Our idea is to use this system in our human trafficking programme to trace people or to send messages to their family”, says Jytte Roswall. The Red Cross would also like to work with reintegration into the society of people who are coming back from trafficking.


Making sense

Although Cambodia is Jytte Roswall’s first work experience in Asia, living and working in developing countries is not at all new to her. “I have previously worked in Botswana. And I have been posted in Uganda for the Red Cross. Then I worked in Denmark for a couple of years, but suddenly I felt like being posted again”, she says with a smile. She is here with her husband and her daughter who is 12 years old and studies at an international school in Phnom Penh.
ytte Roswall’s first took an education as pharmacist and later a degree in public health from England. Helping people has always been the intention of her professional career. And this is what she feels she does, when she is working in a country like Cambodia.
“I think we can reach much further here. Here we are working with basic needs. In Denmark you talk about how long to wait for a new hip. Here we talk about how many children we can save. Many will say it is simple, but it does have a direct life saving effect. I think I make better use of my knowledge here than in Denmark”, she says and continues.
“It was probably a coincidence that I went abroad at first. It was also a coincidence that I started working for the Red Cross. But it was not a coincidence that I stayed. I agree with the principles of the Red Cross such as humanity and neutrality. I like the idea of a global organisation that is here to stay long after we have gone. I am proud of working for the Red Cross”, she finishes.








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