Children for Change, Cambodia
Children for Change Cambodia (CCC), is a local, non-governmental organisation (NGO), operating in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. CCC support children aged 6 to 18 who live in the Sen Sok area of the city, a location renowned for its acute depravation. The majority of the beneficiaries live alongside a railway track or in stilted wooden shacks built over a parched body of water, which has now become a refuse dump.
CCC offer a support network in the heart of the Sen Sok community. The children attend the centre every day for an ‘academic bridge’ programme, designed to nurture their educational development and prepare them for formal schooling. Upon arrival at the centre they are provided with a meal - often the only food they will eat that day - before attending study group, led by a Cambodian member of staff. They also participate in English, Arts & Crafts and Music classes conducted by volunteers, before spending the second half of the day at public or private school, which is also funded by CCC.
The children live within a community heavily populated by sex workers, many of whom are family members. With nightfall, scores of women line the streets and await custom. Clients are shown into the children’s homes and many of the youngsters sell condoms for pocket money. Alcoholism and drug addiction are rife: class A drugs are sold and used openly. Poverty corrodes familial relationships and numerous children arrive at the CCC centre having experienced domestic abuse. CCC are the only organisation working to support the children and families in this region of Sen Sok.
For seven years CCC operated as ‘Action to End Exploitation’ (AEE) a Canadian non-profit organisation. In November 2012, due to unforeseen circumstances, AEE ceased operations and the centre in Sen Sok was forced to close. The resistance to closure by both the children and their families was testament to the importance of the organisation for the local community. The staff swiftly rallied all resources and inaugurated ‘Children for Change Cambodia’ as the vehicle to continue the important work. With the backing of American non-profit CQF, along with a bedrock of volunteers and supporters, the team at CCC reopened the centre to the delight of the local community.
The new Executive Director, and mother to be, Kung Yanthy stepped up from her teacher / managerial role and now heads the organisation that she has been part of for seven years. Assisting her in this new role is an Advisory Board formed of volunteers and supporters, and her enthusiastic team of local staff.