Cambodian Anti-Trafficking Organization and Me by Gabrielle Yetter – Guest Post

Cambodian Anti-Trafficking Organization and Me by Gabrielle Yetter – Guest Post

Today on the blog we welcome author Gabrielle Yetter, with her guest post ‘Cambodian Anti-Trafficking Organization and Me‘ in which she tells us why the proceeds from her new book ‘Whisper of the Lotus’ will be going to a Cambodian anti-trafficking organization. This post contains affiliate links.

Gabrielle Yetter Cambodian

Gabrielle Yetter is a former journalist who lived in Cambodia almost four years. Author of The Definitive Guide to Moving to Southeast Asia: Cambodia, The Sweet Tastes of Cambodia, Ogden the Fish Who Couldn’t Swim Straight and Martha the Blue Sheep, and co-author with her husband, Skip, of Just Go: Leave the Treadmill for a World of Adventure.

Gabrielle Yetter lives in East Sussex, England. Whisper of the Lotus is her first novel and was long-listed in the 2019 London TLC (The Literary Consultancy) Pen Factor writing competition.

Guest Post sign Cambodian Anti Trafficking Organization

Why I’m donating proceeds to a Cambodian anti-trafficking organization

In 2010, my husband, Skip, and I bought one-way tickets to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We knew little about the country, even less about the people, and hardly anything about the life we were stepping into. We just knew it would be different.

We moved there to experience a new way of life; one that we knew would shake us from our comfortable western existence. Not because we were unhappy or dissatisfied, but because we’d dipped our toes into the Southeast Asian lifestyle while honeymooning in Thailand, and wanted more. More of the gentle lifestyle we’d observed, more of the region that shifted our middle-class Caucasian perspective, more of the chaos and unpredictability of a third-world country we were to make our home.

After being accepted by Volunteers In Asia, we sold our home, gave away or stored our belongings, and boarded a plane for the 16-hour flight to Phnom Penh. At first, it was difficult. The heat was unbearable, and air-conditioning was scarce. There were rats on the streets, mosquitos in the air, and potholes on every pavement. We’d landed in a country where we knew nobody (other than three VIA volunteers), and where our first days were filled with Khmer language lessons and forays into salubrious parts of town. Nothing was comfortable and everything felt as though we were being challenged.

Then, after a couple of weeks, something shifted. We discovered there was more than smelly markets and bothersome bugs. We found jacaranda-fringed pagodas, tiny cafés with sweeping balconies, and lush riverside boulevards. Best of all, we discovered the people. Men, women, and children with smiles as wide as their faces, eyes that shone with warmth and acceptance, and hearts that embraced us and made us realise we had found a new home.

pineapple Gabrielle yetter Cambodian Anti-Trafficking Organization

We also found friends in the expat community – most of whom had come to Cambodia to help. Among them was Matthew Fairfax, an American with an infectious laugh and an even more infectious passion. Matthew came to Cambodia to set up Justice and Soul, an organization providing training for at risk youth rescued from trafficking. He’d been inspired by a client at his Seattle hair and beauty salon, travelled to Cambodia to see for himself then, like us, fell in love.

Skip and I met Matthew on his first visit in 2012 and became instant friends. His plan: to create a luxurious hair salon in Phnom Penh providing cosmetology training for young people so they could envision a future – not one fraught with danger, pain, and fear, but one of hope.

After meeting with trafficking survivors, researching, and consulting with other organizations, Matthew went back to the US to raise funds, then returned to Phnom Penh and, less than two years later, opened the Kate Korpi salon.

It began with four Cambodian students and a couple of American stylists and trainers, and today they have three educator/stylists, six Cambodian graduate stylists, 10 students and two support staff. The gorgeous, upscale salon overlooks the city and provides a new beginning for young Cambodians who walk through his doors to receive training and life skills that will equip them forever.

Matthew spends time with every student, bringing them into a circle of acceptance, building self-esteem, and inspiring them to create better lives. He provides them with uniforms, medical care and bonuses while they learn in addition to a salary that is double the average Cambodian wage.

When I lived in Cambodia, I’d often stop by the salon. Sometimes to get a haircut or colour treatment, sometimes just to visit Matthew and his adorable dog, Neekee. I’d be greeted at the door by a young man or woman with an enormous smile, offered a cup of coffee or tea, and ushered into a gleaming white waiting area. It was hard to believe the shining happy faces of the students and employees belonged to individuals who had been treated like waste, often beaten or abused, and invariably living without hope.

For this reason, and because of my friend Matthew, I’m donating proceeds of my novel, Whisper of the Lotus, to his organization. The book is based in Cambodia and tells the story of Charlotte Fontaine, a young British woman who meets a mysterious old man on her flight who changes the direction of her life. She finds herself on a quest that takes her through dusty back alleys, into shimmering pagodas, and to rural Cambodian villages where she meets a Buddhist monk, a jovial tuk-tuk driver, and a man who survived the Khmer Rouge. And, while Charlotte thought she’d come to visit her oldest friend, Roxy, she discovers there was a bigger purpose for this trip – and that the old man on the flight wasn’t just another passenger on the plane. It’s a heart-warming, inspirational story showing that sometimes you have to go a long way from home to discover what was right in front of you.

Whisper of the Lotus was published on November 9 – Cambodian Independence Day – and my donation to Justice and Soul lasts 57 days (a significant number in the book) – until January 5. The story has been described as “a page turner and an inspiration for readers.” In my book, the real inspiration is Matthew Fairfax and Justice and Soul.

Whisper of the Lotus by Gabrielle Yetter

Whisper of the Lotus
A girl. A chance encounter. A lost letter.

Author – Gabrielle Yetter
Publisher – Meanderthals Publishing
Pages – 366
Release Date – 9th November 2020
ISBN 13 – 978-0996237024
Format – ebook, paperback

Interview synopsis 2020

A buzz sounded from inside Charlotte’s handbag, so she stopped and fumbled for the mobile phone she’d switched on after landing. Surely nobody would be contacting her here. Her fingers curled around it and she flipped open the case and checked the message: Welcome to Cambodia, Charlotte. You have 57 days.

Sometimes you have to go a long way from home to come full circle back to discover what was right in front of you..

Charlotte’s mundane, dead-end life lacked excitement. She never imagined that sitting on a plane to Cambodia, struggling with her fear of flying, would lead to her being befriended by Rashid, an old man whose tragic secret would take her on a mystery tour of discovery.

In a land of golden temples, orange-clad monks, and smiling people, Charlotte discovers nothing is as she’d expected. She also never imagined the journey would take her back to the night when her father walked out on the family.

And who was Rashid? Was he just a kindly old man, or was there something deeper sewn into the exquisite fabric of his life?

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Share your thoughts on ‘Why I’m donating proceeds to a Cambodian anti-trafficking organization’ in the comment section below!

The above links are affiliate links. I receive a very small percentage from each item you purchase via these link, which is at no extra cost to you. If you are thinking about purchasing the book, please think about using one of the links. All money received goes back into the blog and helps to keep it running. Thank you.

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12 Responses

  1. What an interesting and engaging story! I look forward to reading Whisper of the Lotus, and I’d love to hear more about your time in Cambodia.

  2. Nadene says:

    A great cause. Human Trafficking is such a terrible and heartless crime.

  3. Sounds like an excellent cause to donate proceeds to!

  4. DJ Sakata says:

    The synopsis appeals to me. I have Lotus on my cloud and am working my way toward it. I’m running behind but eager to read it.

  5. Gabrielle Yetter says:

    Thank you for your nice note, Karen. I spent almost four years in Cambodia and happy to chat more about it (message me on FB). In the meantime, you might find this interesting:

  6. Lots of human trafficing in America as well.

  7. Gabrielle Yetter says:

    You are correct, Shelleen. Justice and Soul is including it in their focus for 2021. All the best to you.

  8. Thanks Karen, I’m glad you enjoyed the guest post and I hope you enjoy the book too.

  9. I totally agree with you. Heartless crime that is committed far too often.

  10. I think you are correct, such a wonderful charity to donate too.

  11. Good to hear you already have a copy. I do hope you enjoy Whisper of the Lotus.

  12. I doubt there is many places in the world where it doesn’t happen. Some people are so cruel, especially to other people.