Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The salt of life: Ensuring table salt provides a vital mineral for good health

By Samoeurn Un and Arnaud Laillou

Salt producers in Kampot Province. Local salt producers are facing a challenging environment.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Arnaud Laillou

Iodine is an essential component of a proper daily diet, contributing to healthy thyroid function. Iodine deficiency is the leading preventable cause of intellectual and development disabilities. In many countries, iodine is efficiently delivered into food via table salt. But in Cambodia, as recently as 10 years ago only one in four households were using iodized salt, missing out on this vital mineral.

Intensive UNICEF work since then toward universal salt iodization, coupled with government initiatives, has brought about dramatic improvements, but recent information demonstrates the need to renew efforts on this important issue.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The scars of violence against children that can last a lifetime

By Sam Waller

Violence negatively affects the growth and long-term development of children. The child in this photograph is an actor.
© UNICEF Cambodia/2013/Luis Barreto

Seventeen-year-old Neary* experiences social anxiety, depression, panic attacks and night terrors. She constantly wants to stay close to an adult that she trusts. In the past, severe post-traumatic stress has caused her to have panic attacks so severe that she went unconscious. This affected her education, her physical and mental health, and her ability to socialize normally.

Neary’s mother died when she was a young child. This was the start of a childhood of unimaginable pain, the scars of which may never fade away.

After she lost her mother, Neary was looked after by her aunt, Kunthea*, and her extended family. They lived in a village on the outskirts of Battambang city, in the north west of Cambodia.

At the age of 9, Neary was viciously raped and beaten by an older male relative on several occasions. The violence was so severe that Neary almost died.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Developing Cambodia’s first ever national diploma in special needs teaching

By Lisa Kim

Bunthaong (left), 15, and Sreylin (right), 14, read in the Krousar Thmey school library in Phnom Penh   © UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Lisa Kim

It’s a Tuesday morning on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. It’s hot and sticky outside, but inside this small school library, Sreylin, 14, and Bunthaong, 15, are buried in their books. There’s a lot to learn - both students have recently completed primary school and are adjusting to ‘secondary school life’ in 7th grade.

Sreylin and Bunthaong both have visual impairments. Sreylin has low vision and is able to read with specially-made materials, while Bunthaong is blind and has learned to read braille. They both have access to inclusive education and attend a Krousar Thmey school. Inclusive education seeks to cater to the learning needs of all, with a specific focus on those who are vulnerable to marginalization and exclusion including children with disabilities.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Thousands gather for the ‘Day of Prayer and Action for Children’ in Cambodia

By Iman Morooka

Representatives from the Buddhist, Christian and Muslim faiths all attended the Day of Prayer and Action for Children
© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Fani Llaurado

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, 15 December 2015 – Over 4,400 people gathered together yesterday in celebration of the Day of Prayer and Action for Children. The participants included religious leaders from the Buddhist, Christian and Muslim faiths, government officials, NGO members, as well as children and youth.

Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Samdech Hun Sen, opened the meeting which was organized by the Ministry of Cult and Religion, in collaboration with UNICEF, World Vision, Muslim Aid, Danmission and ChildFund. In his remarks, the Prime Minister expressed his support for the celebration of the Day of Prayer and Action for Children in Cambodia, encouraging all religious leaders across the nation to commemorate the occasion every year.

The Day of Prayer and Action for Children is an important event around the world, which aims to draw the attention of faith-based leaders to the plight of children who are at risk of harm.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Climate change: What the COP 21 in Paris means for children in Cambodia

By Jorge Alvarez-Sala

A woman is forced to fetch water from a pond in Siem Reap province, as a result of the
2015 drought

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Jorge Alvarez-Sala

Today, a young Cambodian woman’s life changed forever: ‘Davy’ gave birth to her first child at a rural health care facility in the remote province of Ratanakiri.

Simultaneously, thousands of miles away in Paris, an event with potential to change the lives of billions took place: representatives of over 190 countries, including 150 heads of state and government, opened the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21).

As far apart and as different in nature as these events may seem, they are intrinsically connected. While Davy does her best to care for and protect her precious child, the discussions and decisions made in Paris will profoundly affect her newborn’s future, along with the rest of us sharing this planet Earth.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Disabling karma: Reflections on Buddhism, disability and charitable drive-bys

By Megan Smith

Megan Smith is a volunteer working with UNICEF's Local Governance for Child Rights program
© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Thinavuth Ek

Waiting outside the UNICEF office in Phnom Penh for my tuk tuk, an older woman sidles up to me and pushes 1,000 riel (around 25 cents) into my hand. This is what I have begun to colloquially call a charity drive-by. The first few times I chased after the predominantly elderly women to say, “thank you but please take the money back.” But, after it happened several times and experiencing the Cambodian elderly as absurdly quick, I accepted their charity with discomfort.

I will be honest, this is not the first time I’ve received money on the street. In the dark days of finishing my thesis at university, when I was unintentionally trying out dreadlocks and wore a uniform of oversized t-shirts and sweatpants, a man shoved money into my much-needed espresso outside of a Starbucks as I waited for a friend. Yet, within the Cambodian context, I expected my foreignness to exempt me from being seen as requiring charity.

The element however that seemingly erases my foreignness, my race, and all assumptions of economic affluence, is that I use a wheelchair.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Youth role models in Cambodia inspire children with disabilities to say “I can!”

By Sam Waller

Thuo, 29, leading a session at the “I Can!” workshop in Phnom Penh
© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Sam Waller

Twenty-nine year old Thuo knows what it’s like to feel nervous and shy as a result of disability. Just a few years ago she spent most of her days at home, lacking in confidence because she has a disability caused by polio that affects one of her arms.

Two years ago, Thuo joined the inclusive arts course at Kampot-based organization Epic Arts and started to get her confidence back. She studied modules including drama, creative movement, music and visual arts, plus lessons in Khmer and English literacy. Along the way she also gained skills in management, team leadership and problem solving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

5 questions: urban poor communities in Cambodia

By Martina Tomassini

Shacks above a pool of water and garbage in Andong urban poor community, Phnom Penh
© UNICEF Cambodia/2013/Phok Sophea

Rapid population growth in Cambodia’s capital is putting Phnom Penh under considerable pressure. Given its lack of adequate social services, social security and physical infrastructure, the city does not have capacity to cope with the current high influx of immigrants from rural areas it is experiencing. This results in ever-growing urban poor communities, where people live on the outskirts of society and face many challenges, including lack of basic sanitation and hygiene, as well as social services. I spoke with Alexandra Hammer, Project Advisor at UNICEF Cambodia, who has been working closely with these communities. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015


ដោយ៖ សែម វ៉លល័រ

ប្រាថ្នា អាយុ២២ឆ្នាំ កំពុងរៀននៅសកលវិទ្យាល័យនីតិសាស្ត្រ និងវិទ្យាសាស្ត្រសេដ្ឋកិច្ចនៅភ្នំពេញ
© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Sam Waller

To read this post in English, please click here.

ប្អូនប្រុស យាង ប្រាថ្នា គឺជាយុវជនដែលមានការងាររវល់ច្រើន។ ខ្ញុំបានជួបគាត់នៅពេលព្រឹកដែលមានអាកាសធាតុក្តៅនៅទីក្រុងភ្នំពេញនៅស្ថានីយទូរទស្សន៍ជាតិកម្ពុជា (ទទក) ជាស្ថានីទូរទស្សន៍មានប្រជាប្រិយមួយរបស់ប្រទេសកម្ពុជា។ គាត់នៅទីនោះធ្វើជាអ្នកណែនាំដល់យុវជនវ័យក្មេងៗចំនួន៤រូប ដែលកំពុងចូលរួមក្នុងកិច្ចពិភាក្សាក្នុងកម្មវិធីទូរទស្សន៍ស្ដីពីតួនាទីនៃប្រព័ន្ធផ្សព្វផ្សាយបែបឌីជីថលនៅក្នុងការអប់រំសុខភាពផ្លូវភេទ និងបន្តពូជ។ រាល់ពេលពេលសម្រាកពីការថត អ្នកគ្រប់គ្នាស្ដាប់ប្អូនប្រុសប្រាថ្នា ផ្ដល់ដំបូន្មានដល់អ្នកចូលរួម។ គាត់ជួយឲ្យអ្នកគ្រប់គ្នាសម្រួលអារម្មណ៍និងរក្សាចិត្តឱ្យស្ងប់។

នៅពេលថតចប់កម្មវិធី ប្អូនប្រុសប្រាថ្នា ចូលរួមកិច្ចប្រជុំមួយផ្សេងទៀត ដើម្បីរៀបចំផែនកាសម្រាប់យុទ្ធនាការលុបបំបាត់អំពើហិង្សាលើក្មេងស្រីនិងស្ត្រីនាពេលខាងមុខ។ នៅពេលរសៀល គាត់ធ្វើដំណើរទៅសលាវិទ្យាល័យ មួយកន្លែង ដើម្បីបណ្ដុះបណ្ដាលកុមារដែលត្រូវបានជ្រើសរើសឱ្យចូលរួមពិភាក្សាដេញដោលអំពីប្រធានបទ ការរំលោភបំពានលើផ្លូវភេទ។
អូ! លើសពីនេះ គាត់ក៏កំពុងសិក្សានៅសកលវិទ្យាល័យផងដែរ។ មែនហើយ គាត់រៀននៅសកលវិទ្យាល័យចំនួនពីរឯណោះ!

A youth champion for child rights in Cambodia

By Sam Waller

22-year-old Yeang Prathna in his class at the Royal University of Law and Economics in Phnom Penh
© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Sam Waller

Yeang Prathna is a very busy young man. I meet up with him on a hot Phnom Penh morning at the studios of TVK, one of Cambodia’s leading television stations. He’s here as a mentor to four youngsters, who are participating in a televised discussion on the role of digital media in sexual and reproductive health education. In between takes, everyone stops to listen as Prathna gives advice to the participants. He helps them to relax and be calm.

Once the filming is finished, Prathna heads off to take part in a meeting to plan an upcoming campaign to eliminate violence against girls and women. In the afternoon, it’s over to a local high school to provide training to children who are entered into a debate about sexual harassment. Oh and he’s also studying at university. Well, two universities to be precise.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Innovative food supplements take a bite out of malnutrition in Cambodia

By Arnaud Laillou and Samoeurn Un

Students of an NGO-run preschool test different food supplements
© IRD Cambodia/Wieringa

In Cambodia, many children aged between 6 months and 2 years do not receive the right foods to ensure they grow up healthy and strong. A recent survey showed that only one in five babies aged 6 to 8 months is fed the recommended minimal acceptable diet. A third of children under 5 show high levels of stunting, and a quarter are seriously underweight. One in 10 suffers from acute malnutrition.

Malnourished children can struggle with lifelong consequences, including impaired physical and cognitive development.

That’s why UNICEF partnered with Dr. Frank Wieringa, a Dutch researcher at the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, to develop a nutritious, locally made food supplement to offer Cambodian caregivers the chance to add important vitamins and minerals to their children’s daily food intake.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mapping communities targets support for vulnerable families

By Ariel Hofher
3-month-old Pyal Lima, in the arms of her mother, Sor Sreyna, has been granted an identity thanks to the birth certificate that her father is holding.
©UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Ariel Hofher

Imagine: neither you nor your neighbours have a radio or television. You have only a basic level of education. Your livelihood is dependent on the rice and cassava that your husband farms on his modest plot of land. If rain is minimal during the cultivation season, then crop production will be poor. If your harvest is insufficient, it is likely that your family members will frequently experience going to bed hungry. Your level 1 ID Poor Identification Card signifies that your household is at the lowest strata of poverty. Additionally, the day is nearing that you will go into labour, and until recently, you believed that your sole option was to give birth traditionally at home without a skilled attendant, rather than at a quality healthcare centre.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Social service mapping gives vulnerable children a fair chance in life

By Hun Sovadhanak

Toun Ty, 12, at Leok Cheas Primary School in Preah Damrey commune, Kampong Thom
© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Hun Sovadhanak

Toun Ty’s hand is one of the first to shoot into the air, holding his chalkboard proudly aloft. It's early morning at Leok Cheas Primary School in Preah Damrey commune, Kampong Thom Province, and Grade 4 students are eagerly tackling maths problems on their individual chalkboards. Their teacher, Ms. Lyn, invites Ty to the front of the class to show his fellow students how he solved the exercise. Ty’s grandmother, Prum Yeap, never thought she would see her grandson flourish in school. This is because Ty has a disability that affects his mobility.

Ms. Prum recalls her feelings when she first discovered that Ty has one leg that is not fully developed: “In all my life, people with disabilities could not study further and they always ended up having to beg to survive. I felt sorry and hopeless when I saw my grandson like this.”

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Growing up in Cambodia: "Power of the Adolescent Girl"

By Ariel Hofher

Keo Dali and Paeun Paatajeudy, members of UNICEF Cambodia's Youth Representative Group
© UNICEFCambodia/2015/Ariel Hofher

Keo Dalis (left), is a 15 year old girl living in Toul Sambo village, Dangkor distict. Paeun Paatajeudy (right), is an 18 year old girl living in Russey Keo village, Stung Meanchey district. Both are active in UNICEF Cambodia’s Youth Representative Group proving that adolescent girls can be actors in positive change. The urban poor communities where the girls live are about a 30 minute drive or less than 20km from each other in Phnom Penh. Both communities face similar challenges for example, a lack of access in the provision of education for children that is compounded by high rates of poverty. Despite the low socio-economic conditions within their communities, they both exude “Girl Power” because they recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges faced by girls in their community, throughout Cambodia, and around the world.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Breaking traditional barriers to improve maternal and child health in rural Cambodia

By Kong Vanny and Ariel Hofher

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Kong Vanny
Tong Soun (first right) with her 4-month-old baby in Kouk village, Ratanakiri province.

Under the shade of a large tree, Tong Soun carries her 4-month-old baby in a colourful shawl. They live in the remote village of Kouk, 620 kilometres from Phnom Penh in the distant north-eastern province of Ratanakiri.

Kouk village is located in the rural district of Ou Chum, where access to health services is extremely limited, especially for expecting mothers. Aside from limited services, many people in Ratanakiri maintain the belief that traditional birth attendants, who usually have not received formal medical training, are a better option than skilled midwives in a hospital or health centre.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Case Study: WASH infrastructure, education is improving health of rural school community in Rohal village

By Margaret Fenton

Student at Rohal Primary School exiting the latrine facility that UNICEF and partner organization ESC-BORDA installation.
© UNICEFCambodia/2015/Margaret Fenton

Cambodia continues to struggle to provide access to clean water and sanitation facilities, one of the key determinants of household health. While 82 per cent of people in urban areas have access to hand washing and latrine facilities, only 25 per cent of rural Cambodians do, covering a mere 37 per cent of the total population. Access to sanitation facilities, as well as knowledge of good hygiene practices, can drastically reduce exposure to severe childhood illnesses, particularly diarrhoea. Sanitation coverage in Cambodia is poor with 66 per cent of rural families practicing open defecation.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Severe acute malnutrition in Cambodia: Victories, challenges and a fresh approach

By Arnaud Laillou, Megan Gayford and Samoeurn Un

Eighteen-month-old Pheap Maneuy with her mother at their home in Kon Ka Ek Village, Battambang Province
©UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Arnaud Laillou

Eighteen-month-old Pheap Maneuy had a good start in life. She was exclusively breastfed for six months, in line with UNICEF and World Health Organization guidelines. But things started to change once her mother introduced solid foods. “She didn’t eat much of the porridge that we prepared, but we thought it was enough,” says her mother, Mean Sokmom, who is 27.  

In early 2015, Pheap was identified as severely malnourished during a routine screening at the community health centre. As she had no medical complications, Pheap received her treatment – several nutrient-dense, vitamin-rich bars known as BP-100 – and went home. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

From river water to safe drinking water

By Jeremiah Rogers

Touch Bunthorn and his wife at their home in Preaek Koy Commune, Kampong Cham Province
© Lien Aid/2015

“My grandsons no longer wake up in the mornings with stomach pain. The treated water has improved my whole family’s health.” Life has changed for Touch Bunthorn since a UNICEF-supported community water treatment plant opened in his village in November 2014. Previously Bunthorn had relied upon boiling river water to provide drinking water for his family of ten.

Bunthorn lives in a traditional elevated house along the banks of the Mekong River in Preaek Koy Commune, Kampong Cham Province. He and his family, vegetable merchants at a nearby market, sit around an old wooden table to tell their story. Bunthorn’s family and others in his commune had boiled river water for decades. His family would spend up to six hours every week gathering wood from the surrounding forest for fuel. Bunthorn is pleased that this burden has now been removed. “We save time now because we don’t have to gather wood to boil water,” he explains. “My family can use that time to work, study or relax instead.”

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Diversion services: what they are and why they matter – Kunthea’s story

By Anna Jolly

17-year old Seng Kunthea learns vocational skills at Marum training restaurant, in Siem Reap province, as part of UNICEF-supported diversion services
© Kaliyan Mith/2015

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, 1 September 2015 – Seng Kunthea* is a 17-year-old girl from Poipet, a town along the border between Cambodia and Thailand. Her parents died when she was very young and she has been living with her grandmother ever since. Kunthea’s elder sister is now married and living in Thailand while her younger brother works in a casino in Poipet. Kunthea never attended school and began working at a very young age.

At the age of 13 she moved in with a family in Poipet to work as a maid. The father in the family started harassing her and eventually tried to rape her. Luckily Kunthea managed to escape and reached out for help to Cambodian Women’s Crisis Centre (CWCC) – an NGO that provides support to violence survivors. CWCC was able to help Kunthea by providing couselling services and enrolling her in a sewing course – one of its vocational training programmes designed to facilitate victims’ economic and social reintegration. But when Kunthea’s only friend at the centre graduated and moved to Siem Reap, Kunthea decided to follow her.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Growing up in Cambodia: Srei Thim, 14, Andong urban poor community, Phnom Penh

As told to Martina Tomassini

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Fani Llaurado
Srey Thim, 14, sits outside her home in Andong urban poor community, Phnom Penh.

Srei Thim, aged 14, lives in Andong urban poor community. With over 3,500 people, Andong is one of the 516 urban poor communities in Phnom Penh which account for about 25% of the capital’s population – according to government sources. Typically for urban poor communities, Andong faces many challenges, including poor sanitation & hygiene and high rates of diarrhoea and malnutrition. Lack of toilets, proper drainage, garbage disposal system, as well as overcrowded shacks, are common problems. The situation is compounded by high rates of poverty and domestic violence. To help face some of these challenges, UNICEF supports the Cambodian government in promoting access to healthcare for the vulnerable people of Andong and other urban slums in Phnom Penh. As a result, the spread of diseases in the community has decreased, however a lot more remains to be done to ensure all children and mothers are healthy. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Birth registration gives every child their right to an identity

By Kong Vanny and Ariel Hofher

 © UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Kong Vanny 
Chruy Saveth, holds her baby Yaty and shows the child’s birth certificate in Ou Kandoul village, Kampong Cham province.

Kampong Cham, Cambodia, 17 August 2015 – Sitting on a woven mat on the floor of her home in Ou Kandoul village, Kampong Cham province, Chruy Saveth cradles Yaty, her newborn daughter. Yaty is just 11 days old, yet an incredibly important event has already taken place in her life. Saveth holds out a single sheet of headed paper, which has been signed and stamped; in the future, this piece of paper will allow Yaty to access healthcare, education and eventually employment. It is her birth registration certificate.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Youth voices tackling violence against children in Cambodia

By Sam Waller

21-year-old Tuy Raksmey, who is a member of the UNICEF Youth Representative Group and will represent Cambodian youth during the creation of Cambodia’s action plan to tackle violence against children
© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Sam Waller
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, 12 August 2015 – Dressed smartly with a traditional Cambodian krama scarf around her neck, Tuy Raksmey is a young woman with a mission. “I want to help to end violence against children in Cambodia,” she tells me. “I experienced violence as a child and my neighbours use violence against their children too. I want to contribute to a solution.”

Many of Cambodia’s children and adolescents experience violence – often physical but also emotional violence and sexual abuse. Cambodia’s Violence against Children Survey (CVACS), launched in October 2014, revealed that more than 50 per cent of young people surveyed had been the victim of physical violence as a child.

21-year-old Raksmey is one of 20 adolescents and young people who are ensuring that Cambodian youth have a voice in the country’s response to violence against children (VAC), as members of the UNICEF Youth Representative Group. The group receives technical support from UNICEF and funding from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development through Together for Girls.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Children with disabilities flourishing at school

By Anna Nordenrot

Pich Set Vimol (front left) sitting with friends outside her classroom at Krong Kampot Primary School in Kampot.
©UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Anna Nordenrot

KAMPOT, Cambodia, 11 August 2015 – It’s break time at Krong Kampot Primary School and hundreds of children are playing in the schoolyard. 11-year-old Pich Set Vimol, however, prefers to spend her breaks in the classroom. “Because of my disability I cannot run around like the other children. I have colouring pens and paper, so if I don’t feel like going out I enjoy drawing pictures instead,” she tells me with a smile.

‘Smiling’ is perhaps the best way to describe Vimol, who studies in Grade 5 and lives with her parents and three siblings in Muoy Ousaphea village, Kampot. Upon hearing her story, I cannot help but wonder if it is Vimol’s positive attitude that has helped her to overcome her difficulties and become the successful girl that she is today. She explains to me that in 2009 she fell and badly injured her leg. “I fell and hit a rock that broke my leg. The injury did not heal very well and my leg broke twice more after that.” Vimol was in such a bad state that she could not attend school for five months and today, although back in school, she cannot walk without assistance.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Resilient communities in a changing environment

By Jorge Alvarez-Sala

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Jorge Alvarez-Sala
Yuen Roun washes her baby with water from a nearby pond, Veal village, Siem Reap province.

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, 4 August 2015 – Yuen Roun is 37 years old, has two children and a big debt that obliged her husband to migrate from Cambodia to Thailand a few weeks ago. 

Roun’s family lives in Veal village, Siem Reap province. They are landless farmers so they work as daily labourers for other (poor and nearly poor) neighbours.  

Late in 2013 Roun’s husband got malaria, just before the rice harvesting season. This is the time with the most job opportunities for daily labourers, but her husband had to stay home for months and the family had no income. As a result, they had to resort to requesting a loan of $100 from a local microfinance organisation. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

UNICEF helps children victim of Explosive Remnants of War go back to school

By Plong Chhaya and Martina Tomassini

©UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Plong Chhaya
Vong Touch, 16, plays with his classmates during their break at Pang Rolim Secondary School.
PAILIN, Cambodia, 22 July 2015 – Sixteen-year-old Vong Touch is an Explosive Remnant of War (ERW) survivor who lives with his widow mother and three siblings in a small wooden house in the post-conflict area of Au Reang village, in Pailin province. Located along the border between Cambodia and Thailand, Pailin is the second highest landmine and ERW-contaminated area in the country. The plot of land that Touch’s family rents for their house was cleared by the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC) in 2012.

Touch and his family are originally from Prey Veng province, in the south of Cambodia. In 2013, two years after Touch’s father passed away, his family was forced to move out of their home because of a debt they could not pay off. His mother, Path Nuon, had borrowed around $2,000 from a neighbour to pay for medical treatment when Touch’s father got sick and had to be hospitalized for about two months.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Empowering young people with disabilities in Cambodia to be heard

By Sam Waller

KAMPOT, Cambodia, 20 July 2015 – The nineteen faces in the room showed a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Many of these young people were about to do something for the very first time: operate a video camera. “This is a totally new experience for me, I’ve never held a video camera before!” 21-year-old Saron told me eagerly.

21-year-old Saron, who is visually impaired, learns to use a video camera for the first time at the One Minutes Jr. workshop in Kampot, Cambodia. © UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Sam Waller

It was the first day of the One Minutes Jr. workshop organized by UNICEF in Kampot, southern Cambodia and I was there to capture stories from this special event. Over the following week these young people would learn how to tell their stories by producing a storyboard, directing a film and capturing all the action on camera.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Want to innovate paediatric care in Cambodia? Set up a playground in a hospital!

By Martina Tomassini

Children play in the playground at Battambang Provincial Hospital, Battambang Province, Cambodia.   © UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Martina Tomassini

A first-time initiative in Cambodian hospitals, playgrounds help health care providers, parents and sick children have a better experience during treatment. I spoke with Sedtha Chin, HIV/AIDS Specialist at UNICEF Cambodia, who led this innovative project.

Q: In a nutshell, what is the “Playgrounds in Hospitals” project?
A: The project consists in introducing playgrounds into the paediatric ward of Cambodian hospitals to benefit hospitalized children; children with HIV going in for their monthly treatment; hospital staff; and parents. Playgrounds are equipped with toys and books for children and adults to read. The idea is to create an environment where children enjoy themselves and learn while waiting to be treated; healthcare providers are less under pressure because children are not crying to go home; and it’s easier for parents to keep their children waiting.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Water and sanitation bring good health and dignity to Cambodian school children

By Sam Waller

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Sam Waller
Pupils at Tekhak Panh Nhor Primary School, Phnom Penh, using their new handwashing station

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, 10 June 2015  Birds chatter in the trees, but otherwise all is quiet at Tekhak Panh Nhor Primary School. The 400 pupils of the school, located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, are busily working away in class. Then, the clanging of the school bell. Break time! Pupils stream out of their classrooms in the direction of the school food stalls. But they actually head straight to the adjacent handwashing station, part of the school’s new UNICEF-supported water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities. The pupils methodically work their way through six different techniques to get their hands clean  also known as the six steps.

Phyron Chandywa, a thirteen-year-old pupil in Grade Six, explains further. “Before we didn’t have proper handwashing facilities and I didn’t know how to clean my hands properly. Now I know the six steps.” Chandywa beams when she talks about the new school facilities. “The new toilets are clean and more hygienic. I’m very happy that we have these new facilities.” She has even taught her family members about the handwashing steps.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Let's save our children by changing our behaviour!

By Tan Try

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Meas Bunly
Around 200 students and health workers parade across Kampong Speu province to inform families about the signs of child pneumonia and newborn diseases.

Kampong Speu, Cambodia, 30 June 2015 – Earlier this month at Kampong Speu Provincial Health Department, the Ministry of Health celebrated the official launch of the campaign to promote care-seeking behaviour for children’s pneumonia and newborn illnesses, with support from UNICEF, KOICA and other development partners.

The campaign aims to promote child survival and health by encouraging mothers and caretakers to immediately bring their children with danger signs of pneumonia, and newborn babies with danger signs of illnesses, to the nearest public health facility to receive life-saving treatment.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Inclusive education enables all children to learn

By Anna Nordenrot

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Anna Nordenrot
Sam Nang Pheap Puthi (right) with his friend Chhim Sothea at Krong Kampot Primary School in Kampot province. In 2010 both boys were diagnosed with visual impairments and placed at the front of the class by their teacher so that they could see better.
 They are both in Grade 5.

KAMPOT, Cambodia, 25 June 2015 – Ten-year-old Sam Nang Pheap Puthi sits on a simple wooden desk at the very front of his class at Krong Kampot Primary School. He sits at the front of the Grade 5 class together with his friend, Chhim Sothea, because both boys have visual impairments. “I have a problem with my eyes, my sight is narrowed and I can only see straight,” Puthi says. “Before I used to sit in the back of the class but I could not see properly. Now my teacher has re-arranged the class and I can sit in the middle and at the front so that I can see.”

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The importance of an inclusive community

By Sam Waller

25-year-old Chea holds the storyboard for his film at the One Minutes Junior workshop in Kampot
KAMPOT, Cambodia, 18th June 2015: All is silent except the noisy chugging of the boat engine, which is sailing slowly up Kampot River. 25-year-old Chea concentrates as he acts out an important shot for the film he has written, as part of the UNICEF One Minutes Junior workshop. The scene ends and one of his team mates tells a joke. Chea breaks out into his trademark wide smile.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

See ability, not disability!

By Sam Waller

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Sam Waller
26-year-old Mary directs the shooting of her film using sign language, during the UNICEF One Minutes Junior workshop in Kampot

KAMPOT, Cambodia, 17th June 2015: There is an infectious enthusiasm in the air, in a small community on the outskirts of Kampot town. Suddenly the hubbub of voices dies down as the director’s voice cuts through the air. “Quiet please! Camera rolling…..action!”

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Camera, action! Promoting expression through film

By Sam Waller

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Sam Waller
Getting creative! Students practice their filming skills during the One Minutes Junior workshop at Epic Arts Centre in Kampot

KAMPOT, Cambodia, 16th June 2015: Someone is balanced atop a pillar, with their video camera poking out between palm branches. Another young person sprawls out on the floor, to get their lens as close as possible to the ground. A group of three deaf students discuss their next shot using Cambodian Sign Language (CSL). The Epic Arts Centre is a hive of creative activity today, as the students learn film making skills for the One Minutes Junior project.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Language can unlock access to education. Here’s how.

By Anna Nordenrot and Martina Tomassini

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Anna Nordenrot
Long Sreynet, 13,  attends the UNICEF-supported Multilingual Education Programme at Sangkom Primary School, in Kratie province.

KRATIE, Cambodia, 15 June 2015 – It is early morning; Kratie is just waking up. Villagers are getting ready for their day, fetching water and preparing breakfast. In the surrounding green fields, cows and water buffalos are quietly grazing, ignoring the morning hustle and bustle coming from the roads nearby. Inside the houses, children are getting ready to go to school. So is 13-year-old Long Sreynet.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Latrines? Yes, please!

How sanitation facilities and hygiene awareness are leading to behavioural change in rural Cambodia 

By Ashanti Bleich 

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Ashanti Bleich
14-year-old Chorn Seth washes his hands at Kohcheck Primary School, Prey Veng province.

PREY VENG, Cambodia, 3 June 2015 – Kohcheck Primary School is situated in Kohcheck village in Prey Veng, a province notorious for its high rate of open defecation. We meet with Sun Kossal, the school director: when asked about defecation practices in the community, she says that not all households have latrines. The majority of those without a latrine live in an area that gets flooded in the rainy season therefore, she explains, “people are reluctant to build latrines because they are afraid that the facilities may get flooded, with their contents spreading all over around their houses.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Accelerated learning for a second chance to education

By Anna Nordenrot

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Anna Nordenrot
14-year-old Chan Sambath (second row, left) and her classmates during class in Tuol Skor School in Thnal Dach village, Kampong Speu province. The textbooks used are part of the Accelerated Learning Programme and provided by UNICEF. 

KAMPONG SPEU, Cambodia, 17 April 2015 – On a secluded dirt road, surrounded by mountains and rice fields, lies Tuol Skor School in Thnal Dach Village, Preah Khe Commune. It is the dry season and wherever you go, so does the dust. You can almost taste it in the air. The schoolyard is empty, all the students are in class. If it were not for the sound of children loudly repeating after their teachers, as though they were competing to see who can speak the loudest, one would think there is not much happening here.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Smart technology, smarter wells

EU funds UNICEF/Cambodian Government partnership to map wells with smartphones to enable access to critical information during emergencies

By Martina Tomassini

© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Martina Tomassini
Ly Khun tracks a well with smart technology in Prek Changkran Kram village, Prey Veng province.

PREY VENG, Cambodia, 9 April 2015 – Build an app to collect information on wells in a user-friendly way; train 80 district officials to use it; send the officials to five provinces across Cambodia to map key wells with a smartphone or tablet; and you have a cutting-edge web-based well assessment system to help save lives next time a flood hits.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Children leading the way in mine risk education in Cambodia

by Chhaya Plong

© UNICEF/2014/Chhaya Plong
Vanna Sreymom, 17, (right) and her peer give a mine risk education lesson to students at Grand 4 in Chisang Primary School, Battambang province.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, 4 April 2015 – My country, Cambodia, endured a long conflict in the recent past. Although the war has ended, we are still living with its consequences.

One of them is represented by landmines and other explosive weapons, which still litter our land decades after the violence ended. In 2013, 111 people were victims of these weapons, 23 of them children. As my country rebuilds itself, we are working to clear these weapons, keep our people safe, and provide assistance to those who have been affected by these explosives. UNICEF supports these efforts by implementing school mine risk education programmes; training teachers and government workers on how to help prevent incidents; providing learning materials; and helping local organizations to assist victims with disabilities.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Triggering disgust to save lives

By Anne-Sophie Galli
“Do you want to eat your neighbour’s poo?” Children participating in a ‘triggering session’ are disgusted to hear how their food and drink can be contaminated as a result of open-defecation.
© Ministry of Rural Development/2010   
KAMPONG THOM, Cambodia, 25 March 2015 – “Do you want to eat your neighbour’s poo?” asks UNICEF WASH Specialist and facilitator, Heng Santepheap to a group of community members. Everyone looks at him in stunned silence as he puts a plate of rice on the floor next to a pile of human faeces. Soon flies are swarming around the food and faeces, flitting between the two. Nearby, a chicken steps into another pile of poo and then steps into a house. “This is what happens every day”, says Santepheap. “And it won’t stop unless everyone works together.” The villagers then find their voices and start chattering all at once, commenting on what they have seen.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bringing UNICEF’s Work to Life through Stories

By Rowena Campbell

Rowena Campbell has worked with UNICEF UK and UNICEF Cambodia country office. She shares her experience of working ‘in the field’.

Pumping water in a community in Kratie province.
©UNICEF Korea/2014/Hong Jang Hyun
PHNOM PENH, Camboida, 17 March 2015 - The welcoming smiles of my colleagues, the chatter and noise of the office, the patience and passion of my team, the rush and pace of the work; bouncing along dusty roads to the provinces, the UNICEF drivers pointing out everything and anything; my colleagues encouraging me to try every roadside delicacy going (the delicious and the downright terrifying); talking with strong, inspiring women, hearing their stories, writing their stories; photographing the beauty of Cambodia and the children of Cambodia, making every day count, in helping Cambodia’s children reach their full potential.