ChildSafe: A Community Effort

ChildSafe: A Community Effort
From: slcRandom
There are over 24,000 children living and working on the streets of Cambodia, leaving them vulnerable to various forms of abuse. Thankfully, there is a small group of “thoughtful committed citizens” who have been working to protect those children from harm.
http://www.childsafe-international.org/cambodia/cscambodia.asp

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Cambodia – M’Lop Tapang Center for Street Kids

Cambodia – M’Lop Tapang Center for Street Kids
From: savannara
We got the opportunity to visit a center for street kids called M’Lop Tapang in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. It is a great cause founded by Maggie Eno.

M’Lop Tapang strives to give street-children access to learning tools, resources, and opportunities to empower themselves by providing physical and psychological necessities, education, counseling and protection from all types of abuse.

http://www.mloptapang.org/

TRAGIC RUDI’S LEGACY OF HOPE

Cambodian school built to remember the way Rudi lived his life
By Grace Macaskill

THE family of a young Scot stabbed to death on a round-theworld trip have built a new school for the Cambodian street children who touched his heart.

Rudi Boa, 28, was killed in Australia in front of girlfriend Gillian Brown after a row with a fellow backpacker over the existence of God.

Killer Alexander York faces up to 25 years behind bars after being convicted of manslaughter last month.

Rudi’s family yesterday revealed a school in his name has been set up in the slums of Phnom Penh, where he and Gillian visited before travelling to Oz.

Rudi’s parents Elizabeth and Richard told how they embarked on the project to remember the way their son lived – not how he died.

Elizabeth, 58, of Culduthel, Inverness, said: "Rudi would have been so happy at what has been achieved in his name.

"He and Gillian were really touched by the plight of the children when they visited a school in Aziza, Phnom Penh.

"Rudi called me that night and said he was going to sponsor one of the kids and asked if we would do the same.

"He and Gillian had taken about 20 children out for the day and were amazed at how resilient they were.

"They were only in Cambodia for a short time but it had a profound effect on them. We thought this was the perfect way to commemorate his life."

Rudi’s family asked mourners at his funeral to donate cash to the charity Village Earth and were amazed when the total topped £5000.

The money has been used to build and equip the Rudi Boa school, built on stilts over a lake. It educates up to 100 street children, mostly of primary school age.

Rudi and Gillian, 30, met at university and gave up medical research jobs to go travelling.

They travelled widely in south east

Asia before arriving in Australia in December 2005.

The couple, who were working as fruit-pickers in Tumut 250 miles south west of Sydney, had only been in Oz for a few weeks when they met York, of Essex, in a bar.

The two men started a conversation about religion which became heated when they returned to the Blowering Holiday park campsite where they were all staying.

York later confronted the couple and Rudi was stabbed in the lung. He died in horrified Gillian’s arms. A jury believed York’s claim he acted in self-defence and accepted his denial of murder.

Rudi’s parents, who travelled to Australia for York’s trial, will not return to see him sentenced.

Castle groundsman Richard, 56, said: "Our daughter Debbie will be there and so will all of Rudi’s friends, who have been amazingly supportive throughout this ordeal.

"No matter what happens it is never going to bring back our son."

Science graduate Gillian, who works at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, returned home on Monday after seeing York convicted.

Her sister Alison said: "Gillian is still very upset by what has happened but she is pleased that something positive has come out of Rudi’s death.

"We and Rudi’s family intend to celebrate occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries by donating to the new school."

Thich Nhat Hanh, Village Earth’s representative in Cambodia, has updated family and friends about the centre on the charity’s website.

He said: "Rudi and Gillian came to Cambodia as backpackers at Christmas 2005 and volunteered to help children in the same slum as the schoolhouse.

"Rudi’s family wanted something good to come from his passing and proposed another new school.

"There are countless children in the neighbourhood and classes were instantly filled with 40 children each.

"We thank all the donors for planting the seed that is still growing."

To check on the progress of the school or find out how to make a donation, log on to http://www.villageearth.org

‘Rudi would be so happy at what has been achieved in his name’

Mum Elizabeth

Student documents plight of Cambodian street children

Student documents plight of Cambodian street children
By: Clayton Norlen
Issue date: 7/30/07 Section: News

In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, it is common for children living on the streets to beg, sell books, offer shoeshines or fall into the sex trade just to survive.

David Alder, a junior film major, traveled to Cambodia this summer alongside amateur filmmakers Alisa Garcia and Maera Grove to document the condition of these street children. The documentary focuses on what the organization Child Safe is doing to improve the situation of homeless children in Cambodia.

Alder described scenes in Cambodia where young children between the ages of six and 17 would carry around infants, rented from mothers, to aid in their begging.

“Filming this documentary made me look at my immense privilege with my many resources here in the (United) States,” Alder said.

Street children are also at risk of ending up exploited in the sex trade by gang members or other adults who sell them to pedophiles.

According to the documentary, there are currently 24,000 children living on the streets in Cambodia.

Childsafe.org explains that the money tourists give to children who are begging or selling items doesn’t help the situation because children are still on the streets and not in school. The money children make is often split between gangs they may be involved with or given back to the family members and bullies who sent them to work on the streets.

“Tourists are unaware that they are contributing to the problems with street children by giving money to children directly,” Garcia said. “Tourists are adding to the problem because they feel guilty or want the children to go away.”

The documentary captures the everyday scenes of children living in the streets in Phnom Penh and Child Safe’s efforts to educate locals and tourists.

The organization says children are put at risk and into abusive situations in Phnom Penh because communities facilitate or ignore the signs of abuse. Child Safe works with community members to teach them ways to protect and educate children living on the streets in their areas.

Calvert’s Calvary

Calvert’s Calvary

by Brian Burke

Published: Jul 3, 2007

ROAD RUES: This month, Megan Calvert will travel across continents in the "world’s worst car" to raise money for impoverished Cambodian kids.

For Megan Calvert, merely traveling the world wasn’t going to cut it anymore. While most tourists in Cambodia are mesmerized by Angkor Wat and the Royal Palace, Calvert, a 23-year-old University of Pennsylvania temporary administrative assistant, noticed another aspect of Cambodian life during a visit last year — the pervasive poverty, especially the multitudes of child beggars in the streets. Then, she met Samantha Rose while traveling in Laos.

Rose, from England, was a member of Trabant Trek, the name given to a four-month road trip that will span 20 countries later this year in an attempt to raise $300,000 to aid those street children. Trabant Trek was looking for one more member, and after traveling together for three weeks, Rose invited Calvert along for the ride.

So on July 15, Calvert and seven other travelers will depart from Zwickau, Germany, in two Trabants, Soviet-era cars with a top speed of about 60 mph. Made with a plastic frame, lacking a fuel pump and oil filter and emitting 10 times more pollution that the average Western car, the Trabant was deemed the "world’s worst car" by the London Times.

"We’ve planned that there will be serious problems [with the cars]," says Calvert, noting that, to be on the safe side, the group will also bring a four-wheel-drive vehicle and spare Trabant engines.

Because the trekkers are footing the bill for their trip — $6,000 to $7,000 each, excluding airfare — they will sleep in tents and economize on food and supplies as much as possible. John Lovejoy, a journalist from Monterey, Calif., founded Trabant Trek last year after traveling to Cambodia. While there, he worked with M’Lop Tapang, a charity based in Sihanoukville, offering food, shelter, medical care, education and counseling for Cambodian street children and working to reunite them with their families. While most members of the group — composed of four Americans, two Brits, a Spaniard and a Hungarian — do not know each other, they are united by their love of world travel and their desire to do good in the places they visit.

"We’ve all been to Cambodia," Calvert said during a recent interview in University City. "We’ve witnessed the poverty that’s there. We weren’t really satisfied to continue traveling around and not really make an impact, so we decided to change that and actually do something while we’re seeing the world to improve the situation in countries."

Calvert said street children are omnipresent in Cambodia; according to the Consortium for Street Children, there are more than 10,000.

"The kids really have their technique down," she said. "They’ll crawl up into your lap. It’s impossible not to [see them]. That’s why we were all so moved by it."

The money raised be split evenly between M’Lop Tapang and Mith Samlanh, a Phnom Penh-based charity that provides food, shelter, education, vocational training and other services to homeless children. (M’Lop Tapang is likely to use the money to improve or expand its vocational center, while Mith Samlanh will probably purchase the property on which it operates to avoid eviction.)

Along the way, the group will stop at non-governmental organizations that perform similar work as their Cambodian counterparts. "The idea is that it’s not going to just touch the Cambodian street children," said Calvert, an American citizen who was born in the Netherlands, and lived in several countries before attending college in Florida. She moved to Philadelphia to live with her sister and plans to return to the city after Trabant Trek.

The Trekkers also hope to enlighten young adults in the U.S. and abroad about the issues facing people in other parts of the world and encourage them to travel more internationally.

Despite their best intentions, the team still has a long way to go before reaching their fundraising goal. According to their Web site, http://www.trabanttrek.org, only $3,070 has been raised so far, primarily from individual donations. So, group members have been targeting their families and friends, posting fliers in their neighborhoods and are seeking corporate sponsors.

Calvert said she expects that writing blogs and posting photographs and videos during the Trek will spur more people to donate.

"Hopefully," she said, "someone with deep pockets will see us."