Safe Havens For The Vulnerable Children Of Scavengers
The notorious garbage dump of Steung Meanchey might have gone, but life here remains hard, and this community remains the main entry point for the poorest Cambodians moving to Phnom Penh from the countryside. Desperately looking for jobs but lacking skills, they often resort to scavenging, a hard life which leaves many children vulnerable.
Scavenging means leaving home before dawn and coming home when it’s dark. Or it means going out at night, after you’ve worked somewhere else during the day. It can mean spending hours in Cambodia’s oppressive heat trying to find discarded cans, cardboard boxes or other recyclable materials that you can sell. It means – after all your hard work – only earning a few dollars to go home and feed your family, while setting aside some money to pay rent and electricity.
With no-one to turn to for childcare, many parents are often forced to bring young children along on the carts while they scavenge, or leave them at home unsupervised, leading to situations where children are vulnerable and at risk.
In response to this very visible and depressing problem, CCF has opened several drop-in centres throughout the community where parents living in Steung Meanchey can leave their children before they head out into the city to scavenge, knowing their children are in the care of CCF staff while they work. Those that can afford to pay a small fee.
These centres are a safe haven for many of the youngest children in the community, allowing them to access the nutritious food, shelter and healthcare they need to develop into healthy young adults.
With a brand new drop-in centre opening right in the heart of our community, more CCF parents are now able to go to work knowing their children are safe and looked after.
One of our CCF parents, Som Ravy is overjoyed at what this new drop-in centre means for her and her young family: “I take my children to stay here during the day, and they get better care, have enough food, and they can play happily, unlike when they stay with me. It is very difficult for me because I do not have enough time to take care of my children as I have to work. Now I can go to work and earn money to support my family.”
At CCF, we believe that education, family support and community development programs are all crucial elements to transforming the country’s most impoverished kids into tomorrow’s leaders. The new CCF drop-in centre is just one of the many ways in which we are helping to support the families who live in our community.
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