In Cambodia, Sister Michelle Lopez coordinates a multi-faceted response to women and children. Staff are given daily and extensive training to conduct the following programmes and services, both within the Fountain of Life Center and beyond.
The outreach program conducted at Fountain of Life is an anti-trafficking initiative operating between 3 main groups:
Networking with vulnerable groups in Thailand
The Villages in Sihanoukville
The women in the bars in Sihanoukville
Two staff members will be involved, working in Cambodia in the prison, in the bars and in the villages. They will pay special attention to children and young adults who have left or who are planning to leave Cambodia to find employment in Thailand and neighbouring countries.
Every three months they will travel to Thailand and work with NGOs in Chonburi – Thailand who are involved in this area
They will visit Cambodian families and places where Cambodian children and young adults are working or are kept in Thailand,
Teaching children and young adults Khmer – English – Hygiene (health education).
Providing information to individuals and families about trafficking and its different and complicated methods of recruitment.
Pre-departure workshops for people who are planning to leave the country.
Information on trafficking for forced labour – sexual exploitation – domestic work
Language skills – English and Khmer
Counseling services and health education
Information regarding – marriage with foreigners – smuggling of people.
Providing information to vulnerable groups on:
Legal and illegal migration
Poverty This is a great challenge faced by the women and teenage girls, Therefore they can easily become victims of trafficking
Unemployment Young people have no work. They are frustrated at being idle for long periods. They are often under pressure to find work quickly which makes them vulnerable to accepting dangerous job offers. They do not critically assess the job advertisements or recruiting firms.
Afraid to contact local authorities When it involves border crossing victims seek the help of traffickers who provide them with false documents – they are afraid of the local authorities.
Pressure from the Families Families and relatives vigorously collect enough money so that their daughter or their relative can go abroad and find employment.
Pressurized to appear successful Returned survivors who were trafficked refuse to acknowledge that they are victims of trafficking and despite all the hardships they encountered they are prepared to go again and again until they can bring home money.
Stop Migration – has not worked Curbing their mobility would put them into a more exploitative situation.
Reasons for our approach
Complexity of Trafficking Traffickers only want to exploit labour and they are not concerned whether the victim is an Illegal migrant or a trafficked person or a smuggled person
Our primary aims
Prevent forced labor
Provide information to vulnerable groups
Form networks that can be useful to vulnerable groups
Before admitting a child our staff make a home visit to assess the family situation in order to provide the necessary help and support that the family and child needs
Only children and families in difficult circumstances are admitted
Some of the children study at our Center in the morning and in the afternoon they study at the Public school
Every day the children are served with a nutritious meal and they also get a snack before they return to their homes
Teaching the children to take a shower
Teaching the children Life Skills
Educational exposure experiences
The number of Children attending day care - 33.
Purpose of this Program
After the Vietnamese helped to defeat Pol Pot they ruled Cambodia until they were pressurized to leave Cambodia. Many Vietnamese have Cambodian Citizenship but in the past they were very reluctant to learn the Cambodian Language – neither did they allow their children to study the language. However now they are beginning to realize that without the language they will not qualify for jobs or educational opportunities in Cambodia.
Currently there are about 5 children learning Cambodia at our Center every day.
Effectiveness of the program
This program is very effective as the children are able to read and write in Cambodian. They are able to participate fully in the lessons taught at school.
The relationship between the Vietnamese children and the Cambodian children is slowly improving.
Purpose of this Program
Through this daily program we are able to reach out to all the people in the community.
Many of the people who attend the classes do not have the money to have private tuition classes. Every day about 139 children – teenage girls and boys – and young adults come to the Center.
Young Mothers are able to share their life struggles with us and receive counseling after the classes.
The young adults are working and they need language skills.
Effectiveness of this service
This is a very effective service.
Our visibility is enhanced in the community – this is important since most of our services are outreach services.
The children who attend the classes do well in school.
Every day the staff teach sewing in the prison. They also provide other services to the women prisoners Once a year there is an inter-faith gathering. Religious leaders from the various religious denominations meet and conduct sessions.
5th April – The students and the staff celebrate the Water Festival – which is the Buddhist New Year in Cambodia. The actual date is from 13 - 15 April. Although many people celebrate the 1st January – the Buddhist New Year is very important to them. The festival is the time to remind the people that they need to recognize and respect what their parents and elders have done for them throughout their life. Buddhist people also visit Buddhist temples and worship the great Buddha. They offer food to monks and cleanse the image of the Buddha with perfumed-water
This festival is celebrated in the month of July – it shows the concern of the Lord Buddha for the environment. It is a very significant religious ceremony in all Buddhist countries. The Lord Buddha assigned to all of his disciples to stay in their monasteries during the rainy season because they might accidentally step on young plants and insects.
During this season young men become monks for a short period of time.
It is a special time for self-reflection and doing charitable works.
The number of people assisted during 2015. Total 437.
Click here to read the complete description with more photos - Fountain of Life Center, Cambodia