It has been almost a year since we decided to start an outreach project on the Sihanioukville Dump and six months since the project started running. In January we went over to Sihanoukville to set up the outreach project with our in-country partner project LUC as well as creating the Small Steps Nursery for the younger dump children to attend. We were able to start funding more sustainable projects where we actually get children off the dumps thanks to the support from Scott Dunn Travel who funded the Early Years provisions, First Mile and of course the money raised from last year’s Celebritry Shoe Auction.
Six months later and all the high risk children and half the mums from the 10 families permenantly living on the dump are attending our outreach project 6 days a week.
It has been a huge success and an area where SSP really wants to develop. Four years ago we began delivering shoes, then emergency aid. The shoes became a metaphor for enabling children to take small steps out of poverty and into education. But to do this SSP needs to find excellent partner projects to direct the children into.
One way of making sure that all the children are able to get off the dump and into the right school or centre is by delivering outreach projects- a bridge that helps the children get off the dump and back into education.
The dump is a sad place, it is filthy and it is dangerous. Some really terrible things are left on this dump, including mountains of asbestos, which are burnt close to the homes of the dump dwellers and we even found an enormous pile of cut offs from a shoe company called Geox. They had dumped thousands of brand new rubber soles for ther normally very expensive trainers. It seemed ironic that we give out shoes and the dump community who desperately need them and yet they might have been able to recycle the rubber or even make shoes out of the soles that were dumped, but after they were dumped they were then burnt. The burning rubber cast a dark and toxic grey smoke cloud over the dump for days which the families were breathing in. So the more time the children are away from this environment the better.
Though the children still live on the dump, we do not want to seperate them from their families, whose livelihood comes from scavenging. What we want is to stop the children scavenging and support the parents to do so, getting the children away from the dump and smoke as much as possible but without sperating the family units.
We have so much respect for the families on this dump, how hard they work and how difficult it is to look after their children while constantly working and we hope to enhance their lives and change the areas they want changed in positive ways.
Here’s what some of the parents have said about the Outreach Project:
Mother feeding her baby at the centrePheon, mother of baby in SSP crèche and 3 yr old in nursery:
“The best thing about being involved in the project is our children have a safe clean place to learn and grow. For the first time in my life I have been able to leave the dump and learn and earn money without scavenging. Also my kids get to play in the Nursery and eat good food. We have a better life! I am so happy”.
Kong Phan, Father of 8 year old & 6 year old children on our outreach program:
‘My kids are able to attend classes and are given clean clothes, good food, medical care and we are given rice everyday for dinner. It makes me cry to see them very happy.’
Sok Chea, mother, of 4 yr & 3 yr old in the SSP nursery and 7 month old baby in crèche:
“We are very happy and feeling better health then ever before. Our children are safe and healthy learning in the nursery and our house is much better and we have new beds. Thank you so much!”
Quote from Mom, mother of 12 yr old & 7 yr old in SSP outreach, 5yr old and 3 yr old in nursery and 1 yr old in crèche:
“My husband Kun needed an operation and being in hospital for over a month we could never afford to do this without the medical care that we were given. It saved his life. Now with Kun not being able to work we can still eat because you support rice and food each day and we are so happy with the house repairs tyou have done.”
Treurk, mother, of 12 yr old in outreach 3 yr old in nursery and 1 yr old in creche:
‘Now I can work all day whilst the children are at SSP & LUC project and they are safe and healthy. I wanmt to thank the SSP/LUC Project for making our house better and giving food and clothes to us every day. I am very happy,”