Three Weeks Can Make a Difference and Save Lives

Donate, Volunteer Or Work in Cambodia to End Human Trafficking!

By Stephanie Keltner & Heather Haemker

Published online and in On Paper

You feel safe where you live, for the most part. But what if you were in danger of being kidnapped, sold—even by your own family—beaten, and raped? Within the U.S., 293,000 children are in danger of being sexually exploited each year. In Cambodia, human trafficking is a very real, “acceptable” way of life, with a world-wide estimated 12.3 million people being trafficked every day—80 percent are women and 60 percent are children. For these women and children, their everyday reality is one of terror and torture, facing horrors that many people in America cannot even imagine—but you can help put a stop to it.

Fighting Back
Thankfully, there are those, like Matthew Fairfax and his team, who came together to restore these women and children from a life of sexual slavery. But simply removing these women from a bad situation is not enough. They need to be taught a trade in order to survive and thrive in their country to fully escape slavery. It was out of this need to learn a trade that the Justice and Soul Foundation was born. “This is a world-wide issue—it effects every one of us, and it can impact so many young, innocent lives,” says Matthew. “We have to send the message around the world that this is NOT okay, and we have to make sure these precious lives who have been rescued from this abuse have hope and restoration.” Matthew had made frequent visits back and forth to Cambodia before, and ultimately decided to leave his family and team. He moved to the country so that he could set up his non-profit foundation and fully dedicate himself to the cause. A salon owner himself, Matthew determined that if these women could learn a trade, such as hairdressing, they would not only be able to sustain themselves, but would also learn how to be confident, self-sufficient and financially independent individuals and business owners.  

Matthew and his team intend to teach, inspire and build esteem in those who have been enslaved in trafficking. They volunteer their time and talents in hair and beauty by passing the trade along to these women. Additionally, through generous donations and fundraising, Matthew and his team hope to raise $45,000—enough money to build a western-style salon in Cambodia to set up their cosmetology school/functioning salon. “This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done—from raising money, meeting with young students, hearing all the horrible stories, the poverty, along with being separated from my home,” says Matthew, “but I know in the end, each student will be changed by the skills we teach and the love we share.”

The Plan
Justice and Soul plans to establish a school to teach the fundamentals of cosmetology (hair, skin, nails, and makeup) to these courageous women. They will hire qualified therapists to address the trauma experienced by the victims and will be providing the life skills necessary for independence and a full transition.  

The cosmetology curriculum, donated by Pivot Point, will have special consideration given to the education levels expected in Cambodia. The Foundation plans to partner with Cambodian educators to translate the curriculum into Khmer, the native language.

Students attending the school will not pay tuition, but will instead be awarded scholarships. The program will also include a compensation plan for the students so that they can begin experiencing financial independence while learning this valuable trade.

Partnerships with established non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Cambodian government are essential to providing the next level of education and care for these young women. To that end, a high-end salon will be established and staffed by trained, English speaking stylists primarily from the United States and other developed countries. The pricing model will be set to attract wealthy Cambodian women and expatriates, sympathetic tourists and NGO workers. Any profit from the salon will go toward supporting the school. Ultimately, the students will move into stylist roles and ideally become the instructors.

Building a Future
The Foundation also plans to initiate partnerships with local cosmetology programs and schools in the United States. These partnerships will provide on-going opportunities for aspiring stylists to gain entry into the beauty industry. They will also partner with local shelters and rescue programs to provide support and inspiration for the young women in transition.

How You Can Help
Are you ready to change lives? The Justice and Soul Foundation needs your help. They are looking for dedicated stylists ready to volunteer for either one month, or a duration of three months or longer, if possible, to help educate and build confidence in the students and provide services to Cambodian clients. If you are able to come for three months or more, a stipend will be paid to help offset the cost of living. Your skills and enthusiasm will be put to good use with our students. Don’t have an instructor’s license? No worries, Cambodia has very little regulation when it comes to licensure. “Not everyone can come to Cambodia, but we all can tell our clients, get involved on a local level, fundraise for the cause, and make a difference one life at a time,” notes Matthew. “Foundations are only as good as the tribe that supports them!”

What the Foundation Needs
The Foundation is in need of a full-time Education Coordinator to help establish and run the training program. This is a paid position and requires a minimum one-year commitment to living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The group also needs stylists, with at least two to three years of experience, who can head to Cambodia starting in early July/August.

Volunteer FAQs
1. Time. Be willing to commit to at least three weeks in Cambodia (one week for the transition).
2. Transportation. Airfare ranges from $800-$1700. Flight time is between 17 and 24 hours, depending on the airline and possible layovers.
3. Accommodations. Rooms are available for just $30 per night and breakfast is included. Some volunteers have found great deals with AirB&B (, and the Justice and Soul Team are willing to help volunteers find a suitable place to stay.
4. Food. Breakfast is typically included with most guest houses or hotels and the the average cost for lunch/dinner is between $5 to $7.
5. Weather. From the month of April to November, the conditions are typically rainy and humid, but the salon and living quarters have air conditioning.

“Now when I look into the eyes of a young girl hoping to get one of the spots on our team, I see that dream of a “normal” life, and I know that I get to play a role in it,” concludes Matthew.

For more information about Justice and Soul and their efforts in Cambodia visit,

Originally posted here.