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.