Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world and in addition to the ‘common’ challenges of poverty, the country particularly struggles with high rates of domestic violence, child labour and a lack of education.
Against this backdrop, Sunshine Cambodia has been supporting vulnerable children, for over 20 years, by providing access to quality education, working with parents and teachers to ensure children have safe, supportive environments at home and school, and sharing God’s love.
With safety, support and quality education these children have a better chance of breaking the cycle of poverty and can have hope for a brighter future.
We are thrilled to partner with Sunshine Cambodia to continue this incredible work and to support them as they expand their programs from the urban centre of Phnom Penh into the nearby rural provinces where levels of poverty, abuse and lack of education are even higher than in urban areas.
We praise God for Sunshine Cambodia and look forward to seeing how He is going to work through this partnership for the good of His kingdom.
Like all our ministry partners, Sunshine Cambodia is a locally led, Christian, grassroots organisation. They know their communities, the challenges they face and the solutions to these challenges better than we ever could. They live it every day and are in it for the long haul.
They are also committed to integral mission – sharing the gospel through words and actions. There are governmental constraints with evangelistic ministries, but they are always looking at creative ways to teach and spread the gospel.
Sunshine Cambodia’s team is made up of 16 local Cambodians, including the Executive Director, Sem Sochetra (pictured below), who leads Sunshine Cambodia’s work with oversight from the Sunshine Cambodia Board. Sochetra holds a Master’s Degree in Social Development. He was previously a Church Leader with the Anglican Episcopal Church of Cambodia and the Cambodian Baptist Convention, and has a heart for sharing God’s love to Cambodian communities.
Sunshine Cambodia’s Child and School Development Programs:
- Identify poor children who are out of school and provides them with supplies.
- Provide improved facilities in the schools including sanitation blocks and water filters to help children stay healthy and not get sick, playgrounds to promote positive play and libraries to develop good early literacy.
- Work extensively with parents and care givers to empower and equip them to tackle big issues like domestic violence and family financial management. They have seen reductions in violence in the families who have been part of the program.
- Address the risk of child labour and early marriage.
- Give children an opportunity to hear the gospel.
In 2021 WorldShare is partnering with Sunshine Cambodia to continue their incredible work and expand their programs from the urban centre, into the nearby rural Prey Veng province.
It is in the rural areas where levels of poverty, abuse and lack of education are even higher than in urban areas. The program will focus its support on three public schools and their local communities that are falling further and further behind.
Cambodia is a country situated in the southwest of the Indochinese peninsular, with a population just over 15 million people.
The official language is Khmer, but French, English and Chinese are commonly used in media, business, and universities.
Cambodia is an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation with only 2% of the population being Christian.
Between 1975-1979 the Khmer Rouge systematically persecuted and killed around 2 million people – one quarter of Cambodia’s population at the time. They particularly targeted highly educated people and intellectuals.
Forty years later, the country is still recovering.
Today, Cambodia is still one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 146/189 on the 2018 Human Development Index. Around 20% of Cambodians are living below the poverty line.
One of their significant challenges is malnutrition, with 32% of children under 5 suffering from stunting, and 10% suffering acute malnutrition putting them at risk of starving to death.
In addition to the challenges of poverty, millions of Cambodians are affected by domestic violence and oppression, including child labour, child marriages and a lack of education.
Only 36% of children between three and five years old are enrolled in early education.
While enrolment in primary education is reasonably high, the secondary school dropout rate is over 60%. The main reason being that poor families who do manage to send their children to school must bear many extra costs. These costs include uniforms, stationery, and additional informal costs, which make education unaffordable for many Cambodian children living in poverty, leading them to drop out of school.
Education is not a high priority when families are struggling to support their children’s basic needs of food, shelter and healthcare.
These high levels of poverty and school drop out rates lead to massive issues such as:
- Child marriage – 1 in 5 girls are married before the age of 18. Even more have started to have children.
- Child labour – Cambodia has the highest incidence of child labour among Southeast Asian countries. They are exploited through brickmaking, textile and garment factories and sexual exploitation.
- Child violence – around 60% of older children experience physical violence (often in the home). More than half of children at schools report that they have experienced physical violence from an adult. Domestic violence affects the learning abilities of children, causing trauma which leads to poor memory and difficulty concentrating.
Sunshine Cambodia knows that education, safety, support and God’s love are important parts of the solution to many of these challenges.
If you would like to support the work of Sunshine Cambodia you can click here or give us a call at 02 9712 8222
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