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CAMBODIA: Vulnerable children receive shelter, support

Don Bosco House provides shelter and support for abandoned and abused children

CAMBODIA

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries operate Don Bosco House, a multifunctional center for children, in the city of Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The center includes a kindergarten, nursery, daycare center and shelter. The goal of the center is to provide services to vulnerable women and children who are most at risk of exploitation, human trafficking and crime while living on the streets within the city.

The need for such support was so critical that before construction was complete on the center, mothers lined up to enroll their children for services. The kindergarten class started with 15 children with 10 in the nursery and two living at the shelter full-time. According to Brother Roberto Panetto, coordinator of the center, many of the children entering the program suffered from some form of physical and/or emotional neglect.

Today, there are 19 children, ranging from a few months old to age 9, at the home. Pisey, age 6, was born in Phnom Penh and taken to the Don Bosco Center at age 2 because her parents were unable to take care of her and her brother. Today, her mother is in prison and there is no information about her father. Another child, Buth, age 4, is at Don Bosco House because his mother has mental health challenges and has never been able to take care of him.

Bro. Panetto explained, “At the center, these children receive nutritious meals, baths and clean clothes. They see a doctor when needed, receive attention and can play in a safe environment. And—most important—they are prepared for primary school.”

Sihanoukville is a popular tourist destination. Child exploitation is a challenge for the city and is caused by extreme poverty, difficult socio-economic condition, drug trafficking and widespread prostitution. Many children are not registered in the civil registry and are the easiest prey  to be used for the workforce, sexual exploitation or human trafficking.

Don Bosco House gives these children a chance at a positive and happy life free from the dangers of the street.

According to the World Bank, poverty continues to fall in Cambodia. In 2017, the poverty rate was close to 14 percent compared to 47.8 percent in 2007. About 90 percent of the poor live in the countryside. While Cambodia has achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving poverty in 2009, the vast majority of families who escaped poverty were only able to do so by a small margin. Around 4.5 million people remain near-poor, vulnerable to falling back into poverty when exposed to economic and other external challenges.

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Sources:

ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS) 

ANS – Cambodia – “Don Bosco Home” of Sihanoukville: a haven of hope for minors at risk

Salesian Missions – Cambodia

World Bank – Cambodia

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