Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Children as Commodities: Combating Cambodia’s Orphanage Racket

By Robert Carmichael


When 12-year-old Sady was left at an orphanage a decade ago in the slow-paced riverside city of Battambang in western Cambodia, it was not because her parents had died; it was because they were poor.

At that time around half of Cambodia’s population lived below the poverty line. Although the proportion has more than halved since, 3 million people still live in poverty.

Sady and her mother (facing back) speak with Ms. Tara Winkler (left) and a staff member of CCT
© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/ Robert Carmichael

Unable to take care of their nine children, Sady’s parents believed putting her and her younger brother in an orphanage would allow them to attend school and attain a better life. It is a common misconception in Cambodia.

“I remember having this conversation sitting outside with my dad, and him saying: ‘Try to study. I don’t have anything to give you except bringing you here – that is my only gift’,” Sady says, her eyes filling with tears.

The orphanage became her home for two years.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Imagine this

By Sorita Heng

Sorita, 18, is a student at Department of Media and Communication of Royal University of Phnom Penh in Cambodia. She’s also a blogger with the global Voice of Youth. On the occasion of #WorldWaterDay and UNICEF’s global campaign #ClimateChain, we are featuring a blog written by Sorita about how she sees climate change.

Sorita participates in UNICEF's global #ClimateChain campaign
© Sorita Heng

Imagine for a moment that you have a family. Your son or daughter is three years old. And your living scenarios go like this...

1. You are a farmer in Cambodia. Your province has just been hit with a massive flood. Your rice paddy is completely destroyed. Your daughter keeps having diarrhea. She's pale and her lips are cracked. The road is too flooded for you to take her to the hospital. Knee-high water lulls around the house. It's starting to stink.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A day in a life: Kem and his work at the water treatment system

By Eun-Young Jeong

Bottled water ready to be delivered to households and schools in Voa Sar commune
© UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Eun-Young Jeong

Kem Sokkem wakes up every day at 4 a.m. from his hammock next to a stack of empty water bottles. He’s been sleeping inside the water treatment facility in his village for over a year now.

It’s not that he’s homeless. Kem’s house is just a few minutes away. But living at the water treatment facility has become a routine. “If I sleep here, I can start work right away and make sure nothing gets stolen,” says the twenty-two-year-old.

Starting the day at 4 o’clock in the morning is not easy, but Kem is committed. Plus, he has a clear goal: to deliver 21 twenty-litre bottles to two nearby primary schools by 7 a.m. After that, he has about another 50 bottles to deliver around his community in Voa Sar commune.

Friday, March 18, 2016

ការរៀនសូត្រតាំងពីកុមារភាព ធ្វើឲ្យមានភាពខុសប្លែកដល់កុមារជនជាតិដើមភាគតិច

ដោយ ស៊េម វ៉លល័រ


កុមារក្នុងថ្នាក់រៀននៅសាលាមត្តេយ្យសហគមន៍មួយក្នុងខេត្តរតនគិរី
© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Charles Fox
To read this post in English, please click here.

អ្វីៗទាំងអស់មានភាពស្ងប់ស្ងាត់ នៅក្នុងបរិវេណសាលាមត្តេយ្យសហគមន៍មួយក្នុងភូមិល្អក់ ខេត្តរតនគិរី។ មេមាន់មួយក្បាលចឹកចំណីនៅលើផ្លូវដី ស្របពេលដែលកូនទាំងប្រាំពីររបស់វា តាមជាប់ប្រកិតពី​ក្រោយ។ ជ្រូកមួយចំនួន ឈ្មូសដីរកចំណីនៅតាមគុម្ពឈើ នេះជាទិដ្ឋភាពទីជនបទក្នុងខេត្តរតនគិរី ដែលជា​ខេត្ត​ចុង​កាត់ម៉ាត់ញកមួយនៅភាគឦសាននៃប្រទេសកម្ពុជា។ គ្រួសារជាច្រើននៅទីនេះ ពឹងផ្អែកលើការដាំដំណាំ ហើយជារឿងធម្មតាទេ ដែលកូនៗជួយឪពុកម្តាយនៅតាមចំការ ហើយជួនកាលមិនអាចឲ្យពួកគេទៅរៀនបានផង។ ប៉ុន្តែនៅថ្ងៃនេះ ថ្នាក់រៀនរបស់អ្នកគ្រូមត្តេយ្យឈ្មោះ ជ័យ នីតា ពោរពេញដោយកុមារដែលស្រឡាញ់ការសិក្សា។

វ័យកុមារ គឺជាអំឡុងពេលសំខាន់បំផុតសម្រាប់ការអភិវឌ្ឍរបស់កុមារ។ ហេតុនេះហើយសាលា មត្តេយ្យ​​មានតួនាទីយ៉ាងសំខាន់ ក្នុងការផ្តល់ឲ្យកុមារនូវឱកាសសម្រាប់រៀនសូត្រ និងការអភិវឌ្ឍនៅក្នុងបណ្តា​ឆ្នាំដំបូៗរបស់ពួកគេ។ ការចូលរៀនសាលាមេត្តេយ្យ ក៏មានន័យផងដែរថា កុមារទំនងជានឹងចាប់ផ្តើម​រៀន​នៅ​សាលាបឋមសិក្សា នៅក្នុងវ័យសមស្រប និងរៀនសូត្របានពូកែនៅពេលរៀននៅទីនោះ។ នីតា អាយុ ២១ឆ្នាំ បានឃើញដោយផ្ទាល់ភ្នែកនូវភាពខុសគ្នាដែលកើតចេញពីការសិក្សាតាំងពីកុមារភាព ទាំងសម្រាប់ សិស្សរបស់នាង និងគ្រួសាររបស់នាង។

ក្មួយប្រុសខ្ញុំចូលរៀនថ្នាក់ទីមួយតែម្តង ហើយគាត់រៀនត្រួតថ្នាក់អស់រយៈពេលបីឆ្នាំ។ ប៉ុន្តែប្អូនប្រុស​និងប្អូនស្រីរបស់ខ្ញុំ បានចូលរៀននៅសាលាមត្តេយ្យ ហើយពួកគេមិនរៀនត្រួតថ្នាក់ឡើយ។

នេះក៏ជាសាលាមត្តេយ្យ ពហុភាសា” ផងដែរ។ នៅតំបន់នេះ ប្រជាជនភាគច្រើនគឺជាជនជាតិដើម​ ​គ្រឹង។ ដូច្នេះ សិស្សទាំងអស់របស់នីតា និយាយភាសាគ្រឹងនៅផ្ទះ ដោយមិននិយាយខ្មែរ ដែលជាភាសាជាតិឡើយ។


អ្នកគ្រូសាលាមត្តេយ្យ ជ័យ នីតា កំពុងសរសេរលើក្តារខៀន
© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Charles Fox

ការអប់រំពហុភាសា អាចឲ្យសិស្សមកពីសហគមន៍ជនជាតិដើមភាគតិច ចាប់ផ្តើមចូលរៀនជា​ភាសា​កំណើត​របស់ខ្លួន ទន្ទឹមនឹងការបញ្ចូលភាសាខ្មែរបណ្តើរៗផងដែរ។ នៅពេលសិស្សរបស់នីតា ឈានចូល​ថ្នាក់​បឋមសិក្សា ពួកគេនឹងបន្តការសិក្សាជាភាសារបស់ពួកគេរយៈពេលពីរឬបីឆ្នាំ រហូតដល់ពួកគេអាចរៀនជាភាសាខ្មែរទាំងស្រុង។

នៅពេលចេញលេង នីតាពន្យល់ ពីភាពខុសគ្នានៅក្នុងការ​សិក្សាកាលពី នាងនៅក្នុងកុមារភាព ធៀបនឹងជំនាន់កូនស្រីអាយុបីឆ្នាំរបស់នាង ដែល​ជាសិស្សម្នាក់នៅក្នុងថ្នាក់នេះផងដែរ។កាលពីខ្ញុំនៅក្មេង នៅទីនេះគ្មាន​សាលាមត្តេយ្យទេ សាលាបឋមសិក្សា​របស់​យើង​គ្មាន​បន្ទប់រៀនទេ យើង​អង្គុយរៀននៅក្រោមម្លប់ឈើ។


 ជ័យ នីតា កំពុងបង្រៀនក្នុងថ្នាក់
© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Charles Fox

នៅពេលមកដល់សាលាជាលើកដំបូង កុមារីនីតាមិនអាចនិយាយភាសាខ្មែរឡើយ និងពិបាកយល់ពីអ្វីដែលគ្រូនាងពន្យល់។ កាលខ្ញុំនៅពីក្មេង ខ្ញុំចំណាយរយៈពេលពីរឆ្នាំនៅថ្នាក់ទី១ និងពីរឆ្នាំនៅថ្នាក់ទី ២។ នៅថ្នាក់ទី១ និងទី ខ្ញុំមិនអាចយល់អ្វីទាំងអស់! ទើបតែនៅថ្នាក់ទី៣ ខ្ញុំចាប់ផ្តើមយល់បានបន្តិចបន្តួច។” នីតារីករាយណាស់ ដែលកូនស្រីរបស់នាង ពុំចាំបាច់ឆ្លងកាត់ការលំបាកដូចនាង។ 

ឥឡូវនេះ ប្រសើរជាងមុន! ងាយស្រួលជាងមុន ​  យើងអាចជួយក្មេងៗឲ្យយល់ជាភាសាកំណើតរបស់ពួកគេ និងភាសាខ្មែរ។


គ្រុន ចន្ទ្រា ជនបង្គោលឃុំសម្រាប់កិច្ចការស្រ្តី និងកុមារ លើកទឹកចិត្តដល់អាណាព្យាបាល
ឲ្យបញ្ជូនកូនៗរបស់ខ្លួនទៅសាលា
មត្តេយ្យហគមន៍
© UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Charles Fox

ការងាររបស់នីតាជាគ្រូបង្រៀន បានទទួលការគាំទ្រពីសមាជិកសហគមន៍ដែលស្រឡាញ់ការសិក្សា ដែលដើរតួសំខាន់នៅក្នុងការធ្វើឲ្យប្រាកដថា កុមារទៅសាលារៀន ដើម្បីទទួលការអប់រំតាំងពីនៅតូច។

គ្រុន ចន្រ្ទា ជាបុគ្គលម្នាក់ក្នុងចំណោមអ្នកទាំងនោះ។ គាត់ជជែកជាមួយឪពុកម្តាយក្មេងៗក្នុងភូមិ និងលើកទឹកចិត្តពួកគេឲ្យបញ្ជូនកូនៗទៅសាលាមត្តេយ្យ។ ជាជនបង្គោលឃុំ សម្រាប់កិច្ចការស្រ្តីនិងកុមារ គាត់ពន្យល់ពីសារៈសំខាន់នៃការអប់រំតាំងពីកុមារភាព ដល់អាណាព្យាបាលនៅក្នុងការប្រជុំសហគមន៍ និងការទៅជួបដល់ផ្ទះ។

គ្រូប្រាប់ខ្ញុំអំពីក្មេងៗដែលមិនមករៀន។ ខ្ញុំពន្យល់ឪពុកម្តាយក្មេងៗទាំងនោះអំពីសារៈសំខាន់នៃការអប់រំ។ កាលពីមុន ឪពុកម្តាយមិនបានយកចិត្តទុកដាក់ច្រើនពីសារៈសំខាន់ក្នុងការបញ្ជូនកូនរបស់ខ្លួនទៅរៀនឡើយ។ ពួកគេគិតថា ការទៅស្រែ ចំការ មានសារៈសំខាន់ជាង ដូច្នេះក៏យកកូនៗទៅជាមួយ។ ឥឡូវនេះ ខ្ញុំបានឃើញពីការកែប្រែអាកប្បកិរិយាទាំងនេះ


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

It takes a village: Community volunteers help bring safe water and sanitation to schools

By Heng Santepheap

Access to safe water and sanitation is a basic human right and is vital for every child’s survival and healthy growth. On the occasion of World Water Day celebrated every year on 22 March, we share with you stories of how community members in Cambodia are working hard to make sure that children and their families have access to safe water.

Children enjoy a daily hand-washing activity with their friends
© UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Heng Santepheap

Prasat Sanlong primary school is located in rural Thnal village, down a bumpy, dirt road about 15 kilometres from the small town of Sautr Nikum. The school has existed since the 1960s and re-opened after the Khmer Rouge period in 1979 with a small shelter built by the community.

One of the students of that school was Mr. Suk Sou, now 61 years old and president of the school support committee (SSC). The SSC is a community volunteer group consisting of elders, respected people and local leaders whose job is to mobilize resources, such as contributions from parents and the community, to support the school.

“When I was a child studying in this primary school, there was only a small school building and no water or toilet facilities at all. I never had chance to wash my hands, use the toilet or drink water at school. I did not want my children to face the same difficulties.” Mr. Sou said.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Meet the School Director with a big passion for inclusive education

By Iman Morooka 

Dok Sophallida School Director of Vealtrea primary school
© UNICEF Cambodia/Antoine Raab/2015

--‘All children have the right to play together and to learn together’--

In light of International Women’s day we’re celebrating this entire week by shining the spotlight on Cambodian women who work tirelessly to improve the lives of children in the country. 

Dok Sophallida has been serving as the School Director of Vealtrea primary school in Battambang province for about five months now. She says that education is her passion, especially for children with disabilities.

Ms. Sophallida started out as a teacher and had received training on inclusive education, which aims to equip education professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to creating an inclusive school environment for all children, including those with special needs.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Two decades of serving vulnerable Cambodian children: Didi’s story

By Darathtey Din

On the occasion of International Women’s Day celebrated every year on 8 March, I spoke with one inspiring Cambodian woman, Ms. Map Somaya, who has dedicated a significant part of her life to serving some of the most vulnerable children in Cambodia. Now in her 60s, Somaya has been working for 20 years with Mith Samlanh, a local organization serving marginalized children and young people, as well as their families and communities.

Ms. Somaya, mostly known by her nickname Didi, is the Programme Director at Mith Samlanh. She exudes an air of charisma, confidence and a burst of positive energy.

Ms. Somaya in her office at Mith Samlanh headquarter 
© UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Darathtey Din

As a child, Ms. Somaya grew up in a supportive, yet conservative family. But she was a curious child who didn’t hesitate to ask challenging questions. “I loved to be free when I was a child and I liked to play whatever I saw other children my age could play.” she said.

Ms. Somaya and her family, like many others in Cambodia, were deeply affected during the brutal era under the Khmer Rouge regime. Ms. Somaya lost her father, her two brothers and her husband due to the conflict. By the end of the war, she was a single mother to one son. At age 20, she was responsible for taking care of her entire family. This left her very exhausted both physically and mentally. But the difficult circumstances didn’t break her or knock her down. Her son and her surviving family members gave her motivation to carry on. She says that her mother was the one person who taught her to work hard and be persistent.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Pioneer and advocate: A Cambodian woman’s quest for children’s equal access to education

By Patricia Chourio

Ms. Neang stands outside a classroom at Krousar Thmey School for Blind and Deaf children 
© UNICEF Cambodia/2016/Patricia Chourio

Determined. Resilient. Fearless. These are only a few of the qualities to describe Ms. Phalla Neang. School director and country-wide coordinator for the ‘Education for Blind’ programme at local non-governmental organization Krousar Thmey. 

In celebration of International Women’s day, we are highlighting the work of inspirational women in Cambodia such as Ms. Neang. With a professional career that expands for over 20 years, she is a pioneer in the field of education for children with disabilities and a powerful advocate and ally to many of her students. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Early learning makes all the difference for children from ethnic minority communities

By Sam Waller

Children in the classroom of a community preschool in Ratanak Kiri province
©UNICEF Cambodia/2015/Charles Fox

All is quiet in the grounds of the community preschool in LA Ak village, Ratanak Kiri province. A hen pecks at the red earth as her seven chicks skitter anxiously behind her. A couple of pigs snuffle in the bushes, looking for a morsel. This is rural Ratanak Kiri – Cambodia’s most remote province in the far north east of the country. Many families here rely on farming, and it’s normal for children to help their parents in the fields, sometimes to the detriment of their education. Today though, preschool teacher Chey Nita has a classroom full of enthusiastic youngsters.

Early childhood is the most significant time for children’s development. That’s why preschools are so important, giving children vital learning and development opportunities in their early years. Preschool attendance also means children are more likely to start primary school at the right age and to do well once they get there. Nita, 21, has seen firsthand the difference that early education makes, both for her students and her family.