Cambodia is one of the main backpacker destinations in South East Asia. Angkor Wat in Siem Reap or the Killing fields in Phnom Phen are on a lot of backpacker’s bucket lists. But Cambodia is still a developing country, a country that is ruled by poverty and a shortage of food.
Families can’t send their children to get a good education because of a lack of money, which feeds right back into the vicious cycle. Even though school itself doesn’t cost anything in Cambodia, the costs implied are still high: school uniform, books, travel fees. The Children’s Development Village (CDV) close to Siem Reap, Cambodia, is a home for orphans or children in need, which tries to get them out of this cycle. It is one of six projects of the Life and Hope Association in Siem Reap, which is run by monks.
At the moment, there are 24 children between 11 and 17 years living in the CDV. Since the main goal of the charity is to break the cycle of poverty, they all have to attend school nearby and get English and Khmer classes in the afternoon. On top of those classes, the kids in the Village learn typical life skills, such as cleaning and cooking but also eat together and have time to draw and play. There are no restriction on whom the village takes in, “the pure poverty is reason enough”, says Astrid Fischer-Leitl, founder of the charity Chance für Kinder in Kambodscha n.e.V. (Chance for children in Cambodia charity) which supports the village, not only financially. This charity was founded in 2010 in Germany, after the CDV got into financial troubles.
Ideally, the CDV supports the children until they are fully educated and ready to start a career. Unfortunately, it still happens, that mothers give their children away, when they are young and more of a burden than a help, but take them back home once they are old enough to help out around the house. This is a fate the charity has to live with. They still visit the kids that left the camp every once in a while, to make sure, that their living standards are acceptable.
The Life and Hope Association’s other projects include a Sewing Training School for young girls, so they are able to find a job in that segment, a Program Advancing Girls’ Education, which supports young girls to get through their school, a Sustainable Community Project, which sponsors poor families food and school equipment and Buddhism in Society, a project that helps the monks through funding to get better education and build homes for those in need.
A lot of us – including me – often forget, how many poor parts exist in this world. If this makes you want to help out, check out lifeandhopeangkor.org and read more about their great work. You can also support Chance for Children in Cambodia, obviously. Having the opportunity to give back every once in a while is more fulfilling than you might think.