Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bridging the language divide for ethnic minorities in Cambodia – One child’s story

By Anna Nordenrot

©UNICEF Cambodia 2015/Anna Nordenrot
 8-year-old Kreok Cheo in his home village in Mondulkiri province with his MLE-trained teacher Ms. Nhik Pika

MONDULKIRI, Cambodia, 26 May 2015 – There is much that sets Mondulkiri apart from the rest of Cambodia. The province is located in the northeast and, compared to the hectic city life of Phnom Penh, this is a sanctuary. Set in the mountains and surrounded by forests, Mondulkiri is much greener than Cambodia’s more southern provinces. 

Here the soil has a deep red color and the air is cooler, providing a comforting break from the otherwise hot climate of Cambodia. Following a long and winding road in the mountains, we reach Pou Trom Primary School in Pou Trom village, Romonea commune. This is a small school: home to only 52 students and three teachers, it provides Multilingual Education (MLE) to Bunong children, an ethnic minority living in the area.

We meet Kreok Cheo at his house. The school is closed today: the teachers are participating in a full-day MLE training organized by CARE and UNICEF. Cheo is 8 years old; as a member of the Bunong ethnic group he does not speak Khmer at home (the official language in Cambodia). He is currently attending Grade 3 of the MLE Programme, which allows students to learn both in Khmer and in their mother tongue from Grade 1 to 3, before they switch to Khmer-only education. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A volunteer teacher brings education to remote community in Cambodia

By Iman Morooka

Grade 4 students in O’Thmar annex-village school. ©UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Iman Morooka

O’Thmar is a remote ‘annex-village’ in Battambang Province, located about 20 kilometres from the official village it is affiliated with. Annex-villages in Cambodia are informal settlements, often remote or geographically isolated, established mainly because of population movement and growth. Their unofficial status usually means that they are cut off from services, including education.

Like in other annex villages, in O’Thmar there are few services available. The 160 families still rely on collecting rainwater for household use. Only two families have toilets in their houses.

Playgrounds make HIV treatment child-friendly

By Martina Tomassini

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Martina Tomassini
Children play with their parents in the playground at Kampong Chhnang Provincial Hospital while waiting for treatment.

KAMPONG CHHNANG, PAILIN, BATTAMBANG, Cambodia, 21 May 2015 – It’s a lively morning in Kampong Chhnang Provincial Hospital; the playground room is filled with ochre-coloured sunshine and giggles. A few children are bouncing around on colourful hippo toys while others keep running up and down a bright red slide. Some parents are playing with their children while others are watching cartoons with them. A teenage girl is sitting on the side, lost in her book.

Established in 2014, this is the latest playground built by UNICEF in a paediatric ward in Cambodia. “In 2007 I led the setting up of playgrounds in Cambodian hospitals so that children with HIV could have a better experience when they go in for treatment. We partnered with NGO SIPAR  and equipped the playground with toys and books for children and adults to read,” explains Sedtha Chin, HIV/AIDS Specialist at UNICEF.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

How much can you do with clean water?

EU funds UNICEF/Cambodian Government partnership to secure access to clean water in flood-prone areas

By Martina Tomassini

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Martina Tomassini
Children of Kokor Primary School collect water from their newly elevated and rehabilitated well (Kokor village, Kampong Cham province). 

KAMPONG CHAM, Cambodia, 6 May 2015 – At Kokor Primary School, children are eager to use their newly raised well to water their cherished vegetable garden. “Since the well has been rehabilitated and elevated, we don’t need to worry about the rainy season anymore,” explains Lorn Leang Heng, Kokor Primary School director. The school well is one of the 275 wells rehabilitated across Cambodia as part of a joint European Union, UNICEF and government initiative to strengthen preparedness and build resilience in flood-prone areas.

Older kids children run to the top of the 2-level well and start pumping water, while younger ones gather around the tap on the ground level and start passing around buckets and watering cans. “Having two water points means that, while the bottom one is under water when it floods, the top one remains dry can still be used,” continues Lorn Leang Heng. “When the 2013 flood hit, the well was completely submerged: it took two weeks for the water to go down!” he adds.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Volunteers crucial to health delivery in remote Cambodian provinces

By Pauline Yongeun Ahn

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Martina Tomassini
Pel Nean (26 years old, pictured with her baby) is a Village Health Support Group volunteer in the remote Koh Nhek district of Mondulkiri province, northeast Cambodia.

MONDULKIRI, Cambodia, 24 February 2015  In counselling women during and after pregnancy, village health support group volunteer Pel Nean plays a vital role in bridging the knowledge, resource, and transport gaps in the community, and in connecting the community with the health system.

When a mother in the remote Poutert village in Mondulkiri province had long passed her expected delivery date, it was Nean that she called, and who took her to the health centre for a check-up. The mother gave birth to a healthy son after an induced birth.  Mothers living in sparsely populated villages as these feel that without Nean they would not have had the proper knowledge, nor the resources, to get to the health centre.

“In this remote village of Mondulkiri Province, it strains me to go from one house to the next on my motorbike, trying to convince mothers to simply ask for medical help. Things have improved, though. More mothers now know how to recognize danger signs and seek my help for referrals,” says Nean.