Child at CV Phnom Penh, Cambodia…
Cambodia: A country in recovery following decades of civil war
Child at CV Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Cambodia: A country in recovery following decades of civil war
Cambodia, a country with a long history of culture and tradition, is in a process of rebuilding and recovery following decades of devastating civil war and conflicts. SOS Children's Villages is continuing to expand its humanitarian work for children in need in Cambodia, where the organisation first established a presence in the late 1990s.
Cambodia was left in disarray after a succession of civil wars and the genocide of Pol Pot's communist Khmer Rouge forces in which, in total, some three million people died as a result of enforced hardship and starvation. In fact, a whole generation of Khmers were virtually wiped out during Pol Pot's terror regime.
Khmer Rouge forces captured the capital Phnom Penh in 1975 but were forced into the countryside in 1978, following a Vietnamese invasion that sparked off decades of civil war. In 1991, a constitution based on a parliamentary monarchy was established and, in 1993, United Nations sponsored elections restored some normality although the Khmer Rouge did not fully surrender until early 1999.
Today, an estimated 34% of Cambodians live on less than one US dollar per day. Children under the age of 18 make up more than half of Cambodia's 13 million inhabitants. Of these children, almost half are undernourished and one in eight dies before their fifth birthday, mostly due to preventable causes.*
Cambodia also has one of the highest AIDS rates in Asia.* It was estimated in 2000 that some 7,500 children under the age of 15 had died and 30,000 had been orphaned as a result of AIDS - the latter figure is expected to increase to 140,000 by 2005.** Malaria and Hepatitis B are also spreading rapidly and are a common cause of death.* Medical care and facilities are rather limited in Cambodia and are virtually non-existent in the country's interior.
Child prostitution and trafficking are also major problems in Cambodia. However, in recent years, efforts to increase law enforcement for child protection in Cambodia have resulted in the arrest and prosecution of over 750 sex tourists and paedophiles.*
Once political stability returned to Cambodia, SOS Children's Villages reached an agreement with the Cambodian government in the late 1990s, and launched its humanitarian work for children in need. Since then, two SOS Children's Villages were constructed in record time in Phnom Penh and in Angkor Siem Reap with a third currently being built in Battambang, a town with a population of 95,000 situated in western Cambodia near the border with Thailand.
SOS Children's Villages was able to rapidly expand its work in Cambodia primarily due to positive and constructive cooperation with the country's government authorities. Nim Thoth, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Social Affairs, Labour and Vocational training for Youth, actively supported the organisation from the very beginning in Cambodia and, today, is also a member of the International Senate of SOS-Kinderdorf International.
The SOS Children's Village in Battambang, where construction work started in April 2004, will include 15 family houses for some 150 children. Three of these houses are reserved for SOS families with AIDS-affected children and will be an integral part of the SOS Children's Village - with the difference being that the SOS Mother will be assisted by a full-time aunt, in order to better meet the needs of AIDS-affected children. SOS Mothers for Battambang have already been selected and will commence their training in Phnom Penh in the near future.
The first SOS Children's Village to be completed in Cambodia, in Phnom Penh, has now been operational for some three years, providing families and homes for more than 120 children. The premises also include a community kindergarten for 92 children. In their spare time, the children are learning karate, traditional Khmer dancing and are also taking English lessons.
The second SOS Children's Village, in Angkor Siem Reap, was completed in 2002 and is situated near Cambodia's ancient temple and palace of Angkor, which date back to the 9th and 15th centuries. The SOS facility at Angkor Siem Reap includes a kindergarten and a school, which was inaugurated in mid-September 2004 and offers offer primary education for the time being.
Of the children in the care of the two SOS Children's Villages in Cambodia, Ms Shubha Murthi, executive officer, Continental Office for Asia, said: "Many of the children, when they came to us, had never been to a school or had attended school only intermittently. At present, all of them are going to school and their results in the last two to three years have been more than satisfactory."
The majority of the children at the SOS Children's Villages in Cambodia have lost both of their parents, due to a wide range of reasons, such as poverty, sickness or as a result of land mines. A few of the children still have at least one parent but, of these, many have been left incapacitated due to landmines. In fact, the numbers of landmines within Cambodia are considered to be amongst the highest in the world***.
In Siem Reap, an SOS Vocational Training Centre has been in operation since September 2004, offering some 45 youths from neighbouring communities free-of-charge courses in electricity, mechanics, woodwork, plumbing and electronics. As the courses are offered to youths from impoverished families with little education, a practical approach is used for teaching. Accommodation at the compound and meals are provided to all students, in order to enable them to concentrate fully on their courses, and each student receives pocket money and a small clothing allowance. Ms Shubha Murthi said: "This is a small beginning to help the youths in the neighbourhood, who often have rather limited means to study. These youths can be trained with the aim of specifically helping them find a job". (ap)
Statistics: *UNICEF, **AIDSMAP, *** ICBL (International Campaign to Ban Landmines)
Local woman with her child - SC Nairobi, Kenya
Flight crew from Lufthansa Cargo Airlines improve the lives of others in Nairobi.
Cargo pilots care for children in Nairobi
There is something about a new pair of shoes that creates a great deal of excitement in the mind of a child: the trip to the shoe shop, the trying on of several pairs till one fits, the practise walk through the shop to make sure they are comfortable and the pride of wearing new shoes on your home territory. So it wasn't surprising that the children of the SOS Children's Village Nairobi were jumping around on the last Friday of July, when the village turned into a giant shoe shop as 400 pairs of brand new donated shoes and boots, each still in its own box, were delivered to the village after a long and eventful journey from Germany.
It all started when Captain Fokko Doyen coordinator of Cargo Human Care - the social responsibility wing of Lufthansa Cargo Airlines, was approached by a friend working for a large German shoe company, to ask him whether he knew of suitable recipients for 1000 pairs of donated children's shoes. Fokko did not hesitate. Being a long standing friend of SOS Children's Villages, and also a supporter of another children's home just outside Nairobi, he knew the perfect place to send the consignment of shoes - Nairobi Kenya. "We found a way to bring the shoes by truck from Hamburg to Frankfurt (sponsored!)", he explains, "then with the support of Lufthansa Cargo, by plane to Nairobi. It took us a while", he continues, "because of bureaucratic procedures, but with the strong support of SOS Children's Villages in Nairobi the shoes made their way to their final destinations."
Impressed by what they saw
Captain Fokko Doyen first visited the SOS Children's Village Nairobi nine years ago during a stopover in Nairobi. At the time he and his wife had been sponsoring an SOS child in Indonesia and they wanted to see what an SOS Children's Village was like. They were so impressed by what they saw that they decided there and then to assist the village in any way they could. "First I brought clothing and toys", he says, "later schoolbags for all the children. Then we found a school in Idstein Germany that supported me in sponsoring the library for the village." And as if that wasn't enough in 2003, with Captain Rainer Agne, also of Lufthansa, they visited the newly opened SOS Medical Centre and "had the idea to start something with German doctors".
Free medical clinics
That "Something with German doctors" grew into what is now a regular monthly visit by a group of German doctors, dentists and nurses to the SOS Medical Centre Nairobi where they operate free medical and dental clinics for the community living around the village. The medical personnel fly in on the Lufthansa Cargo planes, always bringing donated equipment and drugs with them. While at the centre they conduct specialised clinics ranging from obstetrics to paediatrics. They are even able to carry out surgical procedures using local anaesthetic and have relieved many people of unnecessary suffering.
Why did Fokko Doyen get involved with SOS Children's Villages in the first place? For him the answer is simple: "The friendliness of the SOS people and your perfect working system with the mothers impressed me from the very beginning", he explains.
Made many friends
From that first visit in 1999 until today, Fokko and his colleagues have made many friends at the SOS Children's Village and at the adjoining SOS Medical and Social Centre. They come with no conditions except to be able to contribute to others less fortunate than themselves. "For me only one thing is important", he asserts. "I want to help those poor people in Nairobi, who need our help: children in the villages (not just SOS) and the people who are not able to pay for the doctors."
Not to mention the occasional pair of new shoes. There are now many children in Nairobi proudly walking around in a new pair of shoes thanks to the Lufthansa Cargo pilots who spent time in their short stopovers to organise delivery and to personally hand over the shoes.
The children, mothers and co-workers of the SOS Children's Village Nairobi are grateful for the support of people like Fokko. "Many thanks to Captain Fokko Doyen for his kindness", they said after this latest donation, "and for his personal participation in the lives of SOS children".
"By helping people in Nairobi" Fokko declares, "and talking about it in Germany, I found so many people in my country, who become infected by my ideas and who really help me to build this project 'Cargo Human Care'. This is satisfaction for me: that people understand each other and help each other for a better world!"