Tuesday, April 19, 2011 — The Good Times
According to Hagar International‘s website, this social business’s purpose is, “singular; we restore broken lives. We welcome the toughest of human conditions. We stay focused on the individual. And we do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to restore life in all its fullness.”
Hagar International’s areas of impact are Afghanistan, Cambodia and Vietnam. There, Hagar works for the recovery, empowerment and reintegration of women and children who have been abused, exploited or abandoned.
Hagar International was founded in Cambodia by Pierre Tami. According to the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship‘s publication Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs 2011, which features Pierre Tami’s work: “Nearly three decades after Cambodia emerged from the reign of the Khmer Rouge, it remains one of the 50 poorest countries of the world. A majority of the population still lives in desperate poverty and struggles to meet the most basic needs of food and clean water. Cambodia is also a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking. Many children are trafficked to neighboring Thailand and Vietnam while within Cambodia children are forced into both prostitution and labor. Tricked by promises of well-paid work, many find themselves sold into Phnom Penh’s brothels or reduced to begging or working in slave-like conditions.”
It was after seeing women and children in these circumstances in the early 1990s in Cambodia that Tami originally set up a shelter for women there, an endeavor that has evolved into “an organization offering a range of social and market-oriented initiatives to break the cycle of poverty among vulnerable mothers and children.” Recognizing that these people are often the victims of a lack of opportunity and prospects, Hagar offers them reintegration work in his commercial enterprises and through his partners, so the women can lead independent and productive lives. As stated on their website: “At Hagar, social programs meet social business. This approach, including recovery shelters, education, vocational training, and employment, has enabled hundreds of women and children to reintegrate into community again.”