Faye Hasian Simanjuntak, 15, is often misjudged by others because of her young age; plus her grandfather is Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the coordinating minister for maritime affairs. Yet Faye has a wisdom beyond her years, irrespective of her family, and at age 13 even gave a TED talk, entitled “Am I too young?” A few years later, she appeared—by herself—as a guest on several talk shows.
Faye’s main passion is being the co-founder of Rumah Faye, an organization fighting child sexual abuse and trafficking. “I love my grandpa and I know he loves me too. However, at the beginning, he thought Rumah Faye would run out of steam, and he didn’t believe that I would keep actively doing this,” says Faye.
Launched in 2013 with her mother Paulina Pandjaitan, Rumah Faye grew to the point where it was able to open its own safe house on Batam, at which Luhut gave a speech at the opening ceremony. The name Faye is derived from the word “faith,” so Faye chose it for her organization, as it is meant to give hope to child victims of trafficking and sexual abuse.
The idea of Rumah Faye was sparked when Faye, who was only nine at that time, learned about the problem of underage sexual exploitation. “Between 40,000 and 70,000 Indonesian children are victims of sexual exploitation. About 30% of the women involved in prostitution in Indonesia are below 18 years old. Can you imagine, many are at the same age as me,” says Faye.
According to UNICEF, Indonesia is not only a major source of victims for trafficking and prostitution, but also a destination and transit country for foreign victims from neighboring countries. More than two-thirds of the provinces in Indonesia suffer from internal trafficking. Children are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation, but also to become domestic workers, child brides, and child laborers. Moreover, babies are trafficked for illegal adoption and organs.
In addition to that, Indonesian women and girls are trafficked to Malaysia and Singapore for forced prostitution and throughout Indonesia for both forced prostitution and forced labor. Those facts relentlessly stayed at the back of Faye’s mind for two years. “I told my mom that I wanted to help those girls. My mom was like: ‘Are you sure?’ It wasn’t because she didn’t believe in me, but because it is a very heavy issue,” Faye remembers.
Operating under the umbrella of the DEL Foundation, founded by her grandfather Luhut, Rumah Faye aims to save children from sexual abuse and trafficking, and restore their joy and future. Her organization has a three-pronged strategy of prevention, rescue and recovery.