Cambodia’s Children need our help

 In BE INSPIRED, Charity Work

I’ve been visiting Cambodia every year since 2007 and each time I’ve been deeply moved by the warmth and gentleness of its people. 

Smiling Khmer Boy in a remote village in Cambodia

Whether wandering around a remote village or exploring a famous temple, my interest in Khmer culture and way of life has always been met with warm, welcoming smiles.

Smiling Khmer Boy in Siem Reap - photo by Karen Lucas

The children melt my heart.  Sometimes shyly peeking out at me before breaking into huge smiles when I do something silly to make them laugh.

Smiling boy at Kampong Khleang - Photo by Karen Lucas

They’re often curious and fascinated by me and my camera, taking great delight in seeing the photos I’ve taken.

Smiling boy in Kampong Khleang - photo by Karen Lucas

Often, I find myself being followed by children as I meander through a village – I’m a novelty and any attention they receive is a welcome distraction in their day.

This little boy was our boat-driver's son. After a trip on the Ton Le Sap, he followed us around the village and was delighted when we took his photo.

But, as I laugh with these children, my heart breaks inside.  Some children have no clothes and most are barefoot.  Many show obvious signs of neglect and malnourishment.  Some carry scars and cuts – whether inflicted by people or their environment, I don’t know.

 There are no adults around to supervise them, care for them, or protect them.

It's heartbreaking to see how neglected many Khmer children are

75% of all Cambodians still have no access to clean water or a safe place to sleep, and eat only one basic meal per day.

More than 10% of Cambodian children do not go to school.

Khmer Children at a school on Ton Le Sap - photo by Karen Lucas

These children need our help.  They’re growing up in conditions that are unsanitory and unsafe.   They don’t have clean water to drink and wash with.  They don’t have enough food to eat.  The don’t have access to good medical care. Dysentery, malaria, yaws, tuberculosis, trachoma, various skin diseases, and parasitic diseases are common.

This boy is left alone to fend for himself

What can we do to help?

There are many organisations doing amazing work in Cambodia to try to lift the Khmer people out of poverty. 

You can help by volunteering your time or by donating much-needed funds or gifts/prizes for fundraising events.  Here are some organisations I’ve been supporting over the years.

First Hand is a group of Singapore-based volunteers dedicated to helping vulnerable children and families in Cambodia. 100% of funds raised go directly to:

  • Damnok Toek – Cambodian NGO active in supporting vulnerable and exploited children and their families.
  • Mother’s Heart Cambodia – Crisis Pregnancy Counseling Service in Cambodia providing support for women facing unplanned pregnancies. 

The Intrepid Foundation supports local organisations tackling important community issues all over the world.  For every dollar you donate, the foundation doubles it and 100% of the funds goes directly to the people who need it.

In Cambodia, they support Friends International, an NGO helping to protect and improve the lot of children in impoverished communities through community outreach, family and school reintegration, vocational training and drug prevention and treatment. It also assists with housing and income generating initiatives.

Tabitha Foundation Cambodia is a non-profit organization which has been working with over 1.8 million Cambodians in the country’s poorest communities since 1994. Tabitha’s philosophy of self-help is designed to promote self-sufficiency and dignity through savings, counseling, and goal-setting programs. 

Tabitha’s activities center on lifting more Cambodians out of poverty by helping people to develop inherent skills and resources that foster self-sufficiency and independence. 

Most families “graduate” from Tabitha programs within five to seven years. A daily life of hunger, discomfort and helplessness is changed forever into a busy existence where income is earned, children go to school, and health and well-being improve dramatically.

Parents’ Action for Community & Education (PACE) is a volunteer parent-led organisation within United World College (UWC) supporting communities in Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Singapore.

PACE Scholarships helps fund the education of over 120 children from impoverished backgrounds in the Philippines.

PACE Schools rebuilds schools in poor and remote areas in Cambodia and  Myanmar.  To date, close to 5000 children have benefited from the programme.

PACE Local Outreach organises volunteers to the HCA Day Care Hopsice in Singapore twice monthly, providing activities, performances and outings to patients. 

Recommended Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search

Portrait by Karen Lucas Photography