Cambodia

Epic Arts Cambodia

Organization: Epic Arts Cambodia
Location: Kampot, Kambodja
Target group: Children with functional variations


Epic Arts Cambodia is an organization that works with children with functional variations and their families, under the motto that all people are valuable and count. Cambodia is a country where many parents, due to lack of knowledge and fear, hide children with functional variations away from the world – not even the neighbors know that they exist; they have never been to school and they have never had friends.

Epic Arts’ foremost purpose is to include and strengthen children and to show them and their closest relatives that they can do whatever they want, if only they receive the right support and environment. When the organization conveys its message, it mainly uses the power of art, giving children and young people with functional variations the chance to sing and dance in music videos or on stage – at a highly artistic level. Epic Arts Cambodia has become world famous for its cover of the Pharell Williams song “Happy,” where they dispel many of the myths about what people with functional variations can and cannot do. Art is also the tool used by Epic Arts to bring children, young people and adults who have functional variations together with those who do not. Some of the organization’s work is paid for by the earnings from its own café and shop as well as theater and dance performances.

Epic Arts also offers various types of training: Some children need preparatory support before they start at a government school or other school; others receive training directly from Epic Arts as they will never be able to attend another school (since other schools are most often not adapted for functional variations).

The project supported by Childhood aims to ensure that children with functional variations have the right to safety and protection in their everyday lives, which for many of them is characterized by mistreatment, violence, abuse and exploitation. Epic Arts wants everyone who works for the organization to learn more about established child protection measures and use this knowledge to reach out to children, their families and others in their community. The project also enables younger children with functional variations (three to five years of age) to attend the Epic Arts center twice a week with their parents, to promote the child’s development and to provide the parents with tips and advice on how to best support their child.

More info: epicarts.org


Contact person at Childhood:
Åsa Olsson
asa.olsson@childhood.org

Safe Haven Medical Outreach

Organization: Safe Haven Medical Outreach
Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Target group: Children with functional variations


Safe Haven Medical Outreach is a small grassroots organization with five employees who work with children with functional variations and their families. The team comprises a manager (who is also a nurse), a project coordinator with a family support function, a physiotherapist, a social worker and an administrator. The great thing about Safe Haven is that they focus on “the whole child” and have developed an interdisciplinary approach that meets children’s needs for health, rehabilitation, development and social support. This includes a comprehensive assessment of each child and their family, developing an action plan to meet their needs and defining specific goals, along with regular follow-ups to update the goals and monitor progress. This work is done in the children’s homes or at the Safe Haven office. The organization also offers support groups for parents, and accompanies children and parents on visits to the doctor and others. They also cooperate with a local church that provided a tuk-tuk adapted for the disabled, which can transport children in wheelchairs to the doctor, for example. The number of children and families receiving this support increases each year, but it is far from sufficient. Accordingly, Safe Haven has worked actively to build and strengthen this expertise among other players, both governmental and non-governmental, so that ultimately, more children and their families will receive the support and assistance they are entitled to.

Children with special needs are extremely vulnerable in Cambodia. The country has adopted several laws to safeguard their rights, but they are not applied in practice and a de facto welfare state does not exist. Discrimination against children with special needs is widespread and begins in village communities, where the children are often stigmatized and avoided – and are often exposed to mistreatment, violence and abuse, since they are “easy targets.” In most cases, they cannot attend school, as the teachers are not trained or used to including children with functional variations in their lessons, nor are there any adapted classrooms or bathrooms. Even if these did exist, the children would be unable to get to school, as the schools are often located far from villages and school transport does not exist.

Childhood’s support enables Safe Haven to employ and train more staff, increase other organizations’ expertise through training, mentorship and coaching, and engage in coordination and cooperation aimed at reaching out to more children and families and expanding the services offered to them.

More info: safehaven.org


Contact person at Childhood:
Åsa Olsson
asa.olsson@childhood.org

APLE Cambodia

Organization: APLE Cambodia
Location: Siem Reap, Kambodja
Target group: Children at risk of abuse


Our partner APLE Cambodia (Action Pour Les Enfants) was founded in 2003 and works with children who are the victims of sexual abuse by foreign offenders in Cambodia. It runs various programs to protect children who are at risk of becoming victims of crime and provides support to children who are already victims. APLE

• is involved in an investigative collaboration with national and international police personnel and offers training to national law enforcement authorities;
• ensures that legal proceedings in the entire criminal process are suitable for children;
• develops and disseminates guidelines for best practice in supporting victims and their families;
• provides crisis intervention;
• offers emotional support, legal advice and representation for victims and their families;
• runs information campaigns to disseminate knowledge to the people of Cambodia about how they can prevent sexual abuse and exploitation of children;
• operates an online and telephone hotline where the public can give anonymous tips of suspected or actual cases of sexual abuse and exploitation of children;
• and supports research, advocacy and awareness-raising activities.

Many APLE employees work in secrecy and take significant risks with their own safety so they can identify vulnerable children and offenders. All members of the team say they do their utmost not to expose themselves to danger and the team works in close cooperation with the police, though sometimes risks are taken to protect children.

More info: aplecambodia.org


Contact person at Childhood:
Åsa Olsson
asa.olsson@childhood.org

Mith Samlanh

Organization: Mith Samlanh
Location: Phnom Penh, Kambodja
Target group: Homeless children


Mith Samlanh works with street children and their families, both from a preventive perspective and to reintegrate the children into their families. The organization currently acts as an extended arm of the Cambodian social services in Phnom Penh and the nearby areas with the hope that the Cambodian government will reassume this responsibility.

Mith Samlanh’s field workers regularly visit those areas of the city frequented by the children and families. They revisit the same place several times a week and lay out tarps on the ground to create a space where the children and adolescents can gather. The smallest children get to play and read, teenagers gather to discuss sex and relationships, and young mothers are given advice on how to keep their infants healthy.

The aim is to build trust and then invite the families to come to the organization’s drop-in center, where they are given food, can wash themselves and have the opportunity to talk to someone about the reasons why they ended up on the street. Mith Samlanh also offers children and adolescents opportunities for education, including drug prevention, and reaches out to vulnerable families at risk of ending up on the street.

More info: mithsamlanh.org


Contact person at Childhood:
Åsa Olsson
asa.olsson@childhood.org

Children in Families

Organization: Children in Families
Location: Phnom Penh, Kambodja
Target group: At risk children

Children in Families focuses on ensuring and promoting care for vulnerable children in family-based surroundings. Its aim is simply to reduce the number of children in orphanages and primarily to support parents so they do not need to give away their children at all.

Childhood supports the work of Children in Families in emergency health and social care, which may include temporary placement, support for relatives who have the main responsibility for the child or children, and short-term and long-term foster care placement. Children in Families also offers support to parents with disabled children and in this way reduces the risk of the child being abandoned or mistreated in some other way. Support is also provided to orphanages that want to reorganize their operations to become family-based.

More info: childreninfamilies.org


Contact person at Childhood:
Åsa Olsson
asa.olsson@childhood.org

M’lup Russey

Organization: M’lup Russey
Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Target group: At risk families

M’lup Russey aims to strengthen families so they can stay together, and to offer alternative placements in a family setting instead of an orphanage for children with no family.

M’lup Russey is one of the main stakeholders involved in the work to change the system for taking care of and supporting children in Cambodia. The organization has supported the government in drawing up new guidelines, developing capacity and monitoring the quality of implemented measures. The organization is also the only one in Cambodia that focuses solely on reuniting families and readjusting children who have lived in orphanages. It acts as a direct decision-maker on issues affecting children in care and their families. It also develops alternatives to orphanages, such as acute foster care placement.

More info: mluprussey.org


Contact person at Childhood:
Åsa Olsson
asa.olsson@childhood.org

Angkor Hospital for Children

Organization: Angkor Hospital for Children
Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Target group: Abandoned children


Throughout the world, children are abandoned at hospitals. These children are often sent directly to a state orphanage without any attempt to track down their parents or other relatives. And parents are not given any information about where the children are sent, if they survive. This trend was observed by the staff at the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The hospital decided to develop a solution to deal with the often-unnecessary separation of children and parents. It established a social worker unit that offers support to children and parents who arrive at the hospital.

The social worker unit is the first of its kind in Cambodia and has attracted considerable positive attention both nationally and internationally. Childhood supports all of its efforts. Its work includes tracking the families of abandoned children, identifying cases of abuse, and interpreting medical information/diagnoses to ensure that family members understand them. A large share of the unit’s work is about offering psychosocial support to the family if a child is sick. Social workers evaluate whether there is a need for financial support, perhaps to cover travel costs and medicines, and also make home visits. The target group includes the children and families who arrive directly at Angkor Hospital for Children as well as other clinics nearby. Another important aspect of the unit’s work involves networking, cooperation and collaboration with other players so that more children and families can receive the support and help they need.

More info: angkorhospital.org


Contact person at Childhood:
Åsa Olsson
asa.olsson@childhood.org

Komar Rikreay Association

Organization: Komar Rikreay Association
Location: Battambang, Cambodia
Target group: Homeless children


The Komar Rikreay Association strives to provide development opportunities for street children and children exposed to trafficking. Many children who have been left behind by migrating parents or have become the victims of child trafficking and been sent back to Cambodia from Thailand wind up in Battambang, which is on the two countries’ border. With Childhood’s support, Komar Rikreay ensures the children are provided with safe accommodation, and the care and support they need. To minimize the risk of the children once again becoming the victims of trafficking, the organization offers them various education programs as well as counselling and therapy. Komar Rikreay also works actively to locate the parents and relatives of children who have lost contact with their families. The family support program empowers and supports parents in their parental roles, primarily in terms of talking about difficult experiences. It also includes initiatives that boost the family’s ability to provide for themselves, since poverty is often the main underlying reason for the disintegration of the family. Children whose parents have emigrated can live with foster families who are trained and supported by Komar Rikreay.

More info: komarrikreaycambodia.wordpress.com


Contact person at Childhood:
Åsa Olsson
asa.olsson@childhood.org

This Life Cambodia

Organization: This Life Cambodia
Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Target group: Children leaving orphanages and families with imprisoned members


This Life Cambodia runs several projects, two of which are supported by Childhood. The first project provides support to children with a family member in prison and to children and young people who are in prison themselves. Children and young people are often treated as adults by the Cambodian legal system and can remain in custody for some time without going to trial. This Life Cambodia has therefore created a support program that enables families to keep in touch during imprisonment, partly as a way to make it easier when they are reunited after prison. Young people in prison attend regular courses and are offered vocational training in mechanics or electronics as well as support to start their own business and/or find a job when they leave prison.

Families with a parent in prison are often faced with the difficult situation of surviving on a single wage. This Life Cambodia therefore provides emergency help when necessary as well as minor financial support to open up a store, sell food or conduct other activities that can help the family to support itself in the future. Siblings receive help with school supplies to ensure that they are not taken out of school to help provide for the family.

The other project that Childhood supports ensures that children who leave orphanages are welcomed by society. The number of children in orphanages in Cambodia has increased rapidly over the past decade, even though three-quarters of the children have at least one parent still alive. This increase is partly the result of well-meaning organizations, companies, volunteers and individuals that donate large sums of money to orphanages, instead of investing in a system that identifies vulnerable children and families at an early stage and provides them with support to continue living together as a family. The project is a joint venture between three organizations and focuses on reversing this trend and, in the long term, ensuring that children grow up with their families whenever possible. It provides direct support to orphanages that want to change their way of working as well as contributing to the development of a model for safe reunification of children with their parents, research and early support to children and families. The project is scheduled to continue for six years and will draw up guidelines for de-institutionalization, which will then be presented to the Cambodian government.

More info: thislifecambodia.org


Contact person at Childhood:
Åsa Olsson
asa.olsson@childhood.org

First Step

Organization: First Step
Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Target group: Children who have been victims of abuse


First Step offers support to children who are victims of sexual abuse, with a particular focus on boys and young men. First Step is the first organization in Cambodia to highlight the vulnerability of boys and their need for support. The organization’s main goal is a long-term collaboration with local authorities, organizations, families and individuals, centered on children and young people.

First Step works directly with abused children and young people through information and education efforts, therapy and crisis intervention. It also offers support to other family members when abuse has taken place, primarily to make them understand that it is not the fault of the child that the abuse occurred, the types of help and support he needs and where this help can be obtained. The organization also talks to families about how to handle cultural and social stigmatization. First Step’s support efforts also include coaching of social workers at other organizations who are to identify and provide the necessary initial support and help. In addition, First Step works with children and young people who show sexually harmful behavior, to prevent abuse. First Step is part of a network of organizations in Cambodia that receive support from Childhood. The aim of the network is primarily to collaborate on individual cases, increase competence and work proactively and responsively toward the young people in the target group and their families.

Childhood is now supporting another project with the First Step organization. The project is based on a regional partnership between four organizations in the Philippines, India, Cambodia and Nepal, and aims to investigate sexual abuse of boys and damaging sexual behavior among boys who have been exposed to sexual abuse (from adults or other children). The overall objective is to improve conditions for boys who are victims, so that more dare to speak out and make reports, thereby making it possible to give them the help they are entitled to (and, in turn, be able to improve the support and measures that already exist). The survey includes

  • identifying shared and context-specific knowledge of sexual abuse against boys and damaging sexual behavior

  • identifying activities that have proven effective

  • further developing activities that prevent and counteract sexual abuse and damaging sexual behavior in boys and increasing knowledge and understanding of this among children, young people and adults

  • increasing knowledge and understanding among decision-makers and those who work with these matters in practice to ensure they understand and implement the changes required, thereby enabling sexual abuse to be stopped and damaging sexual behavior among boys to be prevented as far as possible.


More info: first-step-cambodia.org


Contact person at Childhood:
Åsa Olsson
asa.olsson@childhood.org

M’Lop Tapang

Organization: M’Lop Tapang
Location: Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Target group: Children with parents who are addicts


Childhood’s partner organization M’lop Tapang is active in the tourist destination of Sihanoukville. Combined with extreme poverty, the rapidly expanding tourism in Sihanoukville has led to many children and their families coming here in the hope of a better future. Many of them wind up on the streets or living in slum-like areas, or in the entertainment and sex industry, which is closely associated with tourism.

M’lop Tapang was formed in 2003 by a group of committed individuals who wanted to help boys sleeping on the beach at night; today it reaches 5,000 children and their families each year. The organization has developed a holistic program to support vulnerable children and families, and offers outreach activities, a drop-in center, help to reintegrate children and young people living and working on the street with their families or relatives, education, vocational training and help to reintegrate children into schools. The organization also helps families find a means to provide for themselves and gives financial support in times of crisis. M’lop Tapang has a successful drug prevention and rehabilitation program aimed at young people and parents.

For six years, Childhood has mainly provided support to M’lop Tapang’s family support and drug prevention programs. Now we are supporting a new project – building up Cambodia’s first treatment center for alcohol and drug addicts. The target groups are mothers who work in the sex industry, and children and young people whose parents are addicts. Substance abuse, particularly of various types of narcotics, is a huge problem in Cambodia. In recent years, this has been highlighted by the government, whose response is to arrest many addicts. In Sihanoukville, where new casinos are essentially being built every week, a close relationship can be seen between tourism, the entertainment and sex industry, and the surge in addiction. The children of parents who are addicts in this industry bear witness to dreadful living situations, facing mistreatment, violence, abuse, exploitation and, in particular, a constant sense of danger.  Our project provides support to these children, young people and their families, both individually and together. The aim is to gain greater knowledge and competence regarding the “target group” and the design and building of the treatment center, and to provide direct support based on the needs of the children and their families.

More info: mloptapang.org


Contact person at Childhood:
Åsa Olsson
asa.olsson@childhood.org