The Foundation partners with Sunshine Cambodia, which works with around 120 children from 75 different families.
In Cambodia, the sale of a child – for commercial sexual exploitation or cheap labour – can become a serious consideration for a family living in extreme poverty. Sunshine Cambodia works to prevent this outcome amongst struggling, marginalised families in southern Phnom Penh. More positively, they seek to create better solutions for the whole family, using a 'hand-up' rather than 'hand-out' approach. They walk beside the children and families as they work to build brighter futures for themselves.
The children come from families trying to live on a few dollars a day and who struggle to provide the most basic needs. This means many children spend their days working on the busy streets of Phnom Penh. Many children have spent their days sorting through piles of rotting garbage looking for recyclable material they would then sell at a depot. Some begged around the market and tourist areas. Others sold snacks, trinkets or postcards. Not only were they vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, but they also missed out on the simple pleasures of childhood.
For 12 years, Sunshine ran a daily program at its centre where the kids could safely play, learn, eat good food and get healthcare. Their families were also supported through visitation, counselling and a training course. Now, with parents mostly employed and the children having caught up with mainstream education, Sunshine has made a bold move to encourage greater parental responsibility. The daily program has been replaced by weekly clubs and parents are paid a monthly sponsorship to help them cover food and health care costs themselves.
The children continue to receive the benefits of education, food and health care, sport and creative arts, but now it’s through their schools and their families in partnership with Sunshine, rather than Sunshine alone.
Through the Sunshine Centre's community-based approach these families are becoming increasingly self-reliant. Find out more at www.sunshinecambodia.org.