In 2009, Free To Shine’s founder, Nicky Mih, spent time in Cambodia working with over 200 survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation. Nicky was deeply impacted by the stories she heard, and when the time came for her to return home, she asked a question that would change the course of her life:
“I asked survivors who had been rescued how I could help, and I was hardly prepared for their answer. I thought they’d want something straightforward and easy to provide, like university tuition fees, but they didn’t want anything for themselves. Instead they wanted for no other girl to go through the horrors they’d been through. They asked me to go out into the rural villages, find the girls who weren’t in school, and protect them. They told me that if these young girls were in school they would not be trafficked.”
– Nicky Mih, Founder & Managing Director at Free To Shine
International research shows that access to education is vital in reducing the risk of trafficking, especially for young girls. At the time, there were organizations focused on rescuing and supporting survivors of trafficking in Cambodia, but none specifically working to prevent the trafficking from happening in the first place. The survivors had identified a gap, and so Free To Shine was established in 2010 and is now formally registered in Cambodia and Australia.