Our Impact in Cambodia
For many of Cambodia’s children, the future looks bleak. With only three out of every hundred completing school, children grow up unskilled and with little hope of success. Still reeling from the deprivation of decades of civil war, Cambodia remains one of the world’s poorest countries. Children can look forward to a daily wage of little more than £1, and many spend their childhood working to keep their families afloat, and earning much less.
HIV epidemic creates a generation of orphans
A national HIV/AIDS epidemic has left one in ten children orphaned. With no one to look after them, these children must work to survive, but the only employment available to them is strenuous physical labour. These children feed the industries, sweating in the fields, or choking in the filth of underground mines, or working aboard fishing vessels, stripping fish carcasses for a living. Those who escape a lifetime of manual labour must sell goods on the street, or simply beg.
Orphans are not the only children who must work to stay alive. Nearly half of those old enough to work spend their childhood labouring to feed their brothers and sisters and often their parents too.
Education and play – every child’s right
That is why our work in Cambodia is so important. We give these children somewhere to live and a loving family, and a safe community to grow up in. With this comes friends and play, and that first experience of school which is every child’s right. At our SOS Village in the capital Phnom Penh, children play together in wide open spaces, against the backdrop of the secondary school where their education culminates.
In Ban Lung, children start school young, beginning an educational journey which without our help would be beyond the dreams of many. Equipped with the skills and learning they need for secure employment, a decent wage in adult life is no longer out of reach for these children.
In Battambang, HIV/AIDS is a big problem, afflicting thousands of children. But with the help of the medicine and support we provide, it does not have to mean an early death.
Across Cambodia, we work hard to keep families together which sickness and poverty would otherwise force apart, giving children in Cambodia hope of a better future.
“We made it!”
Before coming to Battambang, siblings Sokthida, Chantey, Thidasok and Lekhnachan lived with their grandparents in a tent. When they were very young, their mother had killed herself, and, unable to cope with the burden of four small children, their father ran away. Although their grandparents did the best they could, sickness and extreme poverty prevented them from providing the care their grandchildren needed.
After witnessing the desperation of these children, a villager got in touch with the local SOS Village in Battambang. Soon, the four siblings had a new home and a mother to look after them. They arrived shaking with disbelief, unable to comprehend that their dream of a loving family had finally come true.
“Is this a dream?” Chantay asked. Now, the T-shirt he wears says it all: “We made it!”