In Cambodia, orphanages have become the most prevalent response to poverty and social exclusion: since 2005 there has been a there has been a 65% increase in numbers of private orphanages, and there are currently 258 orphanages in the country. However, it is estimated that over three quarters of the children in orphanages still have at least one surviving parent. These “orphanages” are in many cases effectively boarding schools, where children visit their family regularly. Poverty and lack of education means desperate parents think that such “orphanages” provide the best start for their child. Moreover, even where parents intend an orphanage to provide short-term care only, the reality of poverty, and the difficulty of travelling to visit children in institutions which are often miles away from the child’s home means that families are often broken apart.
MLOP CHILDREN’S CENTRE
In 2009, we co-founded Mlop Children’s Centre, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh and worked in close partnership with them ever since to build and fund a safe place for children both for abandoned and orphaned children as well as local children in need.
During this partnership we delivered over 3500 daycare sessions (with 30-60 children attending each one), over 5000 community outreach visits, provided over 200,000 meals and healthy snacks, prevented the abandonment of over 100 children and reintegrated 100% of the children who came into our residential ‘Crisis Care’ programme, reuniting 85% of those with their own biological family.
We have provided early years education, clothing and school uniforms, first aid, medical and dental checks and treatment, community events and parent support workshops.
We are delighted to say that Mlop became autonomous in 2018, and they continue their amazing work. We receive regular updates about the projects, and about the children. Recently the Mlop team have been to visit Bella – one of the children we reintegrated during our partnership.
We are delighted to hear how well she is doing, she is happy and healthy and loving school! Some of the other children who were once in Crisis Care (and are now reintegrated) went along with the staff for the monitoring visit and were reunited with their friend.