Monday, December 15, 2014

Saving babies’ lives in remote Cambodia

By Anne-Sophie Galli

© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Anne-Sophie Galli
“Giving birth is like crossing a river.” Many Cambodians consider giving birth the most dangerous moment in a woman’s life
KRATIE, Cambodia, 25 December 2014 – It was the middle of the night when Ol Sary Sol felt strong contractions. All preparations had been made, so with her husband, mother and uncle, they rushed onto their motorbike and into the darkness heading for the health centre in the next town, more than an hour away. Twenty-four year old Ol Sary Sol was afraid that she might give birth too soon – in the dense forest or on the dusty road where she could get bitten by a snake. But then the pain took over. The next thing she remembers is a midwife holding up her newborn son. “So we made it!” said Ol Sary Sol.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Cambodia: a better education for every child?

By Martina Tomassini

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, 12 December 2014 — Twenty-five years ago, children’s rights were acknowledged for the first time around the world with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of CRC, we look at the progress that Cambodia has achieved in education. Channra Chum, Education Specialist at UNICEF Cambodia since 2004, helps us understand what has changed and what still needs to change to ensure all children in Cambodia receive a quality education.

© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Nhean Sroeung 
Channra Chum with students at Damnak Kantuot Primary School in Kampong Trach, Kampot province.  Channra visited this school earlier in 2014 with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) and the Swedish Embassy to monitor how funds have been used to improve teaching supporting the most vulnerable children, including children with disabilities and children from poor households. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Children are not toys

How I discovered the scary truth about Cambodia’s orphanage tourism and how volunteers could be hurting the very children they want to help.  

A ChildSafe campaign, in collaboration with Friends International and sponsored by UNICEF.

By Jemma Somervail 

Did you know that 77% of children in Cambodian orphanages are not actually orphans? A few months ago I didn’t either. Fortunately I came across this campaign which provided a much needed reality check.

My name is Jemma and I am a communications volunteer at UNICEF Cambodia. Like many other travellers, I was considering donating my time and money to volunteer in one of the country’s hundreds of orphanages. I was imagining consoling crying babies, reading story books to cute toddlers and playing soccer with the older kids. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Twenty-five years later: is Cambodia a better place for children?

By Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative to Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, 20 November 2014 — All children have one thing in common: their rights. And by this I mean the right to life, health, education, protection and play. These are all fundamental children’s rights that were acknowledged for the first time on a global scale twenty-five years ago, with a document called the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). In this document the world recognised that children are not possessions, but people who have human rights and agreed to protect these rights of our children, the next generation of parents and leaders.

© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Anne-Sophie Galli

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Religious leader in Cambodia campaigns to end violence against children

By Anne-Sophie Galli

© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Anne-Sophie Galli
“I deeply regret what I did to my children,” says Pastor Sreng Sophal seen here praying in his church.

KANDAL, Cambodia, 4 November 2014 – As a former military officer, there was a time when Sreng Sophal had it all: money, power and a group of soldiers who reported to him. At home, if his own children refused to follow his commands, he would beat them. In Sreng Sophal’s world violence was standard. “Beating my children was normal to me – like for most people here”, he said. “I was hit by my dad and he was hit by his parents and teachers.”

Monday, October 27, 2014

Kids Helping Kids Combat Child Abuse

By Rui Nomoto

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia, October 2013 – Ochheuteal Beach in Sihanoukville, five hours by road from Phnom Penh city, is among most beautiful beaches in Cambodia. It attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world. Five years ago, 17-year old Sopheak used to work on Ochheuteal beach selling hand-made accessories to tourists to help support her four siblings, sick father and stay-at-home mother. Though she managed to go to school in the morning, every afternoon was spent trying to earn money. “I usually raised five to eight dollars per day,” said Sopheak. “Sometimes I could earn US$15 but often I earned nothing, especially in the rainy season.”

Cambodia launches report of Violence against Children Survey

First-of-its-kind in East Asia and Pacific region

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, 24 October 2014 – This week the Government of Cambodia revealed the findings of Cambodia’s Violence against Children Survey 2013 (CVACS). The first survey of its kind in East Asia and Pacific region, the study is significant because it provides the first national estimates of the magnitude and nature of violence experienced by girls and boys in Cambodia.

The survey was conducted in 2013 by the National Institute of Statistics of the Ministry of Planning, led by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation. It was coordinated by UNICEF and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2,376 children and young people aged 13 from 24 years old from across the country were asked about their experience of physical, emotional and sexual violence before the age of 18.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What about boys? Debunking myths about sexual violence against children in Cambodia

By Martina Tomassini

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, 22 October 2014 — No, in Cambodia it does not happen to girls and women only: boys too are victims of sexual violence and we need to protect and help them. This is the crystal clear message that transpires from my conversation with Socheat Nong — a soft-spoken 32 year-old social worker, researcher and trainer who works with First Step Cambodia (FSC),one of the few NGOs in Cambodia focusing on the needs of male victims and survivors of sexual abuse.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A song prompts children to drink safe water

By Anne-Sophie Galli

© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Anne-Sophie Galli
School director Sun Sihorn (left) sings the arsenic song every morning with her students and teachers.

KAMPONG CHAM, Cambodia, 29 July 2014 – For most Cambodians, drinking water carries many risks. Their water contains bacteria, parasites or arsenic. Sun Sihorn was 17 when she suffered from the risks of unsafe water, fell ill with a high fever and thought she would die. That was in the late 1970s, when Cambodia was under the rule of the Khmer Rouge. “We were forced to work on rice fields all day long”, she says. “There, we drank water directly from ponds and had no time to boil it.” Today, Sun Sihorn is 53 and she is using her near-death experience to teach others about water-related diseases. In Cambodia, diarrhoea is still the second biggest cause of death for children under 5 years old. Most of these deaths can be prevented by drinking treated bottled water or by boiling or filtering water from ponds, rivers, or groundwater wells themselves, to kill bacteria. “Many know about boiling but they think it’s not important or it takes too much time”, says Sun Sihorn.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

My favourite part of the training? The poo calculation tool!

By Martina Tomassini

© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Martina Tomassini
In Damrei Chhlang village, health focal point Theara (23) is learning how to help others
in her community prepare for and respond to floods.
SIEM REAP, Cambodia, 18 September 2014 – In Damrei Chhlang village, Theara, a young lady with a gentle smile and a strong commitment to community engagement, giggles when asked, “what part of the training did you enjoy the most?”. Then, without hesitation, she replies, “The poo calculation tool!”. The importance of using toilets is one of the key components of the training she is completing along with 15 other village health focal points in Siem Reap province.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Village health volunteer educates pregnant women on antenatal care and birth

By Navy Kieng

Kampong Thom, Cambodia, 2 September 2014 – In the remote Cambodian village of Porproak, mothers and pregnant women sit quietly on the ground under a wooden house listening intently at a session organised by village health volunteer, Mrs. Sophy. On a chair in front of the group she holds up pictures and explains what antenatal care services are, and how to prepare for birth. When she asks what the women learned from the session, it is amazing to see her audience enthusiastically engage with each other to provide the answers.

© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Navy Kieng
Mrs. Sophy, the village health volunteer, explains pregnancy to women in her village.

Porproak is a hard-to-reach village in Kampong Thom province, three kilometres from Protaong health centre and 78 kilometres from the provincial town. Most families in this medium-sized village of 516 people are farmers.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Providing safe water and livelihoods in Cambodia

By Anne-Sophie Galli

© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Anne-Sophie Galli
Song Vannara found a stable daily job: He distributes tanks with clean water to his community.
KANDAL, Cambodia, July 2014 –When Song Vannara was 23 years old, he stopped believing in his future. After repeating many grades at secondary school, he eventually dropped out. His classmates were sometimes ten years younger than him. “I always had to work in sugar cane fields to support my family”, Song Vannara says. “So, I never had time to study.” He thought that, just like his parents and three siblings, he would be a labourer for the rest of his life, struggling to survive on $5 a day.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cambodia’s religious leaders promote positive parenting to end violence against children

By Molika Meas

A religious broadcast on the radio led to a complete change in the parenting style of grocery seller, Thorn Veasna*. The 48 year old, with his wife, regularly listens to the ‘Seeking Happiness Through Buddhist Spiritual Advice Progamme’, a daily show hosted by Buddhist monks.

In late 2013, one of the radio shows was about positive parenting. Noting that according to Buddhist principles violence against other people is a sin, the programme emphasised the importance of raising children with love through encouragement, listening and explanation, rather than through beating, yelling and blaming. To Veasna it was a revelation that violence was not an effective form of discipline. He and his wife used to beat their children with a branch from a tree to exert their authority. “I thought that when raising children we must be strict with them, otherwise they will not listen or respect to us,” said Veasna. The radio show messages convinced them otherwise. “When we use violence with them, they are scared and afraid of us. But when we treat them with love and care, there is much more happiness,” said Veasna who no longer hits his children.

©UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Molika Meas
Thorn Vaesna at home with his wife

Monday, September 8, 2014

Community preschools give children the best start in life

By Rowena Campbell

Beng village is a small, rural village in Kampong Trobek District, in Prey Veng province. 741 people live here growing rice and raising cattle. A Community Preschool (CPS) has been built on the teacher’s land and here teacher Nak Sokhom has been teaching 3 to 5 year old children since 2005.

Ms. Sokhom’s preschool classes are held for two hours a day, five times a week in a colourful and bright room, built and decorated with UNICEF support and funding from IKEA and the Australian Committee for UNICEF. Drawings created by the children hang on the walls, bright paper bunting is strung across the room and two big bowls of water sit in a corner below a bright pink towel. With ample space, the pupils can play and learn freely and safely.

©UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Rowena Campbell
Teacher Ms. Sokham teaches 3-5 year olds at Beng Community Preschool

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Community preschool improves transition to primary school for Ut Voy

By Rowena Campbell

8 year old Ut Vov attends primary school in Beng Primary Sschool, rural Prey Veng province, about 90 km East of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. Ut is now in grade 2 at primary school, two years after leaving Beng Community Pre School. Ut joined the pre-school when he was 4 years old. Despite battling autism, he learnt to play with other children, draw, and recognize the alphabet under the influence of his teacher, Ms. Sokhom.

©UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Rowena Campbell
8 year old Ut Vov now attends primary school after the dedicated teaching and support of the Community Pre School teacher

“I know that every day I am doing something important” Community preschool teacher: Nak Sokhom

By Rowena Campbell

©UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Rowena Campbell
Ms. Sokham teaches 3-5 year olds at the village Community Preschool

Preschool students giggle and shout as they join in with their teacher learning numbers, singing songs and drawing pictures of a train track on their small blackboard slates. Surrounded by colouful drawings and hanging posters showing images of the alphabet and numbers, Nak Sokhom teaches a group of 3 to 5 year olds.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

No child left out: Including Ethnic Minorities in Cambodian Primary Schools

By Sok Thol

In a multilingual programme, Ly Vanarasmey, 15, could first learn in her native language as well as learning Khmer at the same time.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Sok Thol

RATTANAKIRI, Cambodia, 9 July 2014 – Ly Vanarasmey, 15 is currently a grade 6 student at Krolong multilingual primary school in Ochum district, Rattanakiri province. She is the oldest child in her family and has two other siblings. Her sister is a grade 2 student and her brother is in grade 1. They all attend the same multilingual programme in their school because they speak Kreung at home as opposed to Khmer, the official language of Cambodia.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Vulnerable children and women supported by their communities

By Victoria Enström and Hun Sovadhanak

© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/VictoriaEnstrom
Chuy Tha (left), mother of son, Gun and daughter, Tin, is happy that the family received a water filter from the commune council. In the background the children’s grandmother. Pey village, Sam Proch commune, Kampong Thom province.

KAMPONG THOM, Cambodia, 4 July 2014 – Chuy Tha, 32 and her three children have been identified as one of the most vulnerable families in Pey village, Sam Proch commune, Kampong Thom province. Tha and her husband work on other people’s land and only earn 10 000 riels (US$2.5) per day. The family does not have a safe water source and used to drink water directly from a pond in the rice field. When the Sam Proch commune council was made aware of the situation of Tha’s family, it provided them with a ceramic water filter that makes the water safe to drink. ”Now we no longer have diarrhoea and the water doesn’t smell or taste bad” says Tha. Her 12 year old daughter Ohl Thin adds, “We use it every day.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Growing up in Cambodia: Saihaan, 13, Kampong Speu Province

As told to Eva Khattri

Saihaan, aged 13, wants to become a Doctor and help save people’s lives.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Eva Khattri

My name is Saihaan and I am 13 years old. I dropped out of school when I wasin grade 3 because my family kept moving from one place to another. But I could go back to school in grade 4. Now I take Accelerated Learning Classes for grades 5 and 6 in the Primary School of Svay Char in Kong Peseiy district of Kampong Speu province. My teachers tell me that if I study well and pass my exams, I will reach grade 7 at the right age.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cambodia fights to eliminate childhood malnutrition - From the eyes of a UNICEF nutritionist

By Miriam Iuell Dahl

PURSAT, Cambodia, June 2014 – With over 40% of Cambodia’s children under the age of 5 chronically malnourished, 11% suffering from acute malnutrition, and 28% underweight*, it is needless to say that something needs to be done. One of my tasks, working at the Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and Nutrition section at UNICEF, is to evaluate the management and treatment of malnutrition in the country.

Interviewing a mother and her 11 month old daughter at a hospital in Kampong Cham
© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Miriam Iuell Dahl

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cambodian migrants: A story of fear and uncertain futures

By Anne-Sophie Galli and Hun Sovadhanak

Photos: © UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Heang Path/Hun Sovadhanak/Seng Vanna

It was in the middle of the night when Sophoan* and her family left everything behind. They took with them just one bag with clothes and money as their taxi rushed towards the Thai-Cambodian border. The last four kilometres, they journeyed by foot. Their Thai taxi driver refused to go any further to avoid the border officers from establishing any connection between him and his customers. “He was afraid we’d get him into trouble”, 40 year old Sophoan says and adds: “We were illegal.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Community preschools benefit Cambodian children and parents

By Victoria Enström and Hun Sovadhanak

© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/VictoriaEnstrom
Che Al, with her daughters Lina, 4 and Lino 2, values the early learning her children receive at the community preschool.

KAMPONG THOM, Cambodia, 29 May 2014 – Che Al is very proud that her two daughters, Lina, 4, and Lino, 2, both attend preschool in their community. “The community preschool is good not only for the students to learn, but also for us parents to get time to go to work”, says the 33 year old mother from Chamnar Leu commune in Kampong Thom province.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Growing up in Cambodia: Sokha, 13, Kampong Speu province

As told by Eva Khattri

Sokha, aged 13, wants to become a police officer when he grows up.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Eva Khattri

My name is Sokha and I am 13 years old. I live with my older sister who is married. My parents are construction workers in Thailand. My other sister and my two brothers live with them in Thailand. My parents send me money so that I can go to school.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Growing up in Cambodia: Sreynuon, 12, Kampong Speu province

As told by Eva Khattri

Sreynuon, aged 12, wants to complete her education and become a teacher.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Eva Khattri

My name is Sreynuon and I am 12 years old. I am from Sdok commune of Kong Peseiy District in Kampong Speu province. I have lived here all my life.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Children's Day - What do Cambodian children wish for

Today is Children's Day in Cambodia. To mark the day we asked children in Kampong Cham what they wish for. This is what they said...

© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Anne-Sophie Galli

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Where's the soap | Handwashing with soap

‘Where’s the Soap’ is a singalong PSA created by organisations including UNICEF, for Cambodia’s Global Handwashing Day 2013 to raise awareness of the benefits of handwashing with soap.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

In the Tracks of Community Workers

A journey to post-delivery care

"It's crucial that I have a close relationship to the parents to be able to not only inform but also to give way to behavioural change", says Bora Nhran, ECCA in Pou Chhorb village, Mondulkiri
© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Victoria Enstrom


MONDULKIRI, Cambodia, 14 May 2014 - In the small village of Pou Chhorb, on a ridge in Mondulkiri, laughter from scores of children playing and music from a wedding is in the air. In this village there is a new Community Pre-school where eleven children attend for one hour every day and almost all the households in the village have a toilet or are on their way to building one. Bora Nhran is one person who is very cheerful about these developments in her village. She works as an ECCA, Early Childhood Care Assistant, and is an important person in her community where her role is to deliver information on early childhood care to the community.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Growing up without a childhood

Leang Hour (right), her grandmother and her brother sit in front of their house.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Peter Farmer

Out of all the stories we photographed while visiting UNICEF Cambodia, this is the one that hit me the hardest: The story of twelve year old Leang Hour who has become the motherly figure to her younger brother Srei Huy after their mother passed away a year ago and their father left the family. We met them during a day photographing activities supported by the Commune Committee for Women and Children (CCWC), a committee of the local government Commune Council that provides support to vulnerable pregnant women and children.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Safe drinking water

6.3 million Cambodians do not have safe water and basic sanitation. Children are especially vulnerable to water-borne diseases. More investment is much needed.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Creating a happy childhood - Replacing residential care with family reintegration in Cambodia

14 year old Sopheak* (left) and 13 year old Dara* (right) in front of their aunt’s home. They enjoy riding their new bicycles to school. The bikes were provided with funds for family reintegration (*names changed).
 © UNICEF Cambodia/2013/ Reid

On a quiet afternoon in Kouk Doung village, in Siem Reap province, northwest Cambodia, brothers Sopheak* (14) and Dara* (13) are enjoying rides on their new bicycles. They like the freedom of being able to travel around with ease. “I want to work as a taxi driver when I finish school,” says Sopheak. “And so do I,” echoes Dara.
The boisterous teens were not always so happy or carefree.  Following the death of their mother in a motorbike accident in 2005 both spent approximately six years of their childhoods living in residential institutions. Their father - badly affected by the loss of his wife - took to drink, sold his property and spent all the money on alcohol. He neglected and abused his sons and it was only the intervention of their aunt Song Sophors* which prevented serious injury.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Eliminating Mother to Child Transmission of HIV in Cambodia

Bopha (name changed) talks with Hang Kimhorn, a counselor in the
antenatal clinic at Samdech Ov Hospital, Phnom Penh
© UNICEF Cambodia/2013/Bloomfield

Thirty-three year old Chea Bopha (name changed) is glad that she took an HIV test early in her pregnancy. Two months pregnant and feeling unwell she decided to go the antenatal clinic at Samdech Ov Hospital. “I was very sick,” said Bopha, “[with] weakness, tiredness, fever and diarrhoea.” Accompanied by her husband, Bopha received counselling before receiving the test – a finger prick for a drop of blood. The result came back in a short time: positive. Bopha was immediately referred for treatment.  

Although the test result was distressing, Bopha welcomed knowing her status. The counselling helped her to understand why she had been ill and provided her with information about the treatment she will receive to protect her baby. “I want my baby to be healthy,” said Bopha as she looked affectionately at her raised abdomen.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Supporting children to stay in school

8-year-old Pin Kimsean happily receives her school uniform in
Kear Commune, Battambang Province
© UNICEF Cambodia/2013/Seneh Siv
Eight-year-old Kimsean (whose nick name is Pong) lives with her grandparents, Mr. Soung Sai, 58, and Ms. Voeun Soeun, 62, and her four-year-old younger brother, Mithona. The family live in a small wooden house with a zinc roof in Run village, Kear commune, Moung Ruessei district, located about 60 kilometers from the Battambang provincial town. Kimsean is in grade 2 at Damnak Run Primary School which is located about 2.5 kilometers from her home. Usually, Kimsean walks to school with her friends, who she plays with both at school and at home. When Kimsean was three months old she was diagnosed with having valvular heart disease.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

UN Radio: UNICEF tackles water hygiene in Cambodia

Constructing a toilet in Cambodia

Improving hygiene and protecting water sources from contamination, remain key challenges for Cambodia.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Japanese Pop Star Ai Kawashima at UNICEF Cambodia

Ai Kawashima with students of Baprey Primary School
© UNICEF Cambodia/2014/Bona
Famous Japanese singer Ms. Ai Kawashima recently paid a visit to a UNICEF-supported water, sanitation and hygiene project in Cambodia.

Together with Mr. Motoo Tomomura, secretary general of AEON 1% Club, she visited the Baprey Primary School in the province of Prey Veng, to learn more about UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programme. The Japanese AEON Group and Ms. Kawashima support UNICEF in providing schools with water supply units and systems. For the singer, this is a matter close to her heart. She made the children very happy by singing a song with them.