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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Adopt-A-Prison program eases life inside

Adopt-A-Prison program eases life inside


Kimhour, 30, feeds her 1-year-old daughter at CC2 Prison on International Children's Day. Kimhour and her daughter have been in jail since November 2004. The monotony of prison life was broken for a day when Khmer musicians performed at the female and juvenile prison.


or prisoners, the state-allocated daily allowance of 1,000 riel per person for food

is barely sufficient, but for incarcerated mothers with children, surviving on the

meager ration is nearly impossible.

Under Cambodian law, children are allowed to live with their mothers in prison until

the age of six.

At least 28 children and eight pregnant women are currently housed in the 18 prisons

monitored by Licahdo, said Naly Pilorge, director of the human rights NGO, noting

that there are a total of 25 prisons across Cambodia.

While the Ministry of Interior's Department of Prisons is legally obliged to provide

extra food and medicine for children, in reality this seldom happens.

"If you're a pregnant woman with two kids, you'll still get only one portion

[of food] because children are not listed here. They are just tolerated," said

Jacques Bekaert, charge d' affairs at the Embassy of the Sovereign Military Order

of Malta.

The Order of Malta's embassy is one of eight implementing partner organizations involved

in Licadho's Adopt-A-Prison program, which coordinates the supply of extra food,

toiletries, medicine and recreational facilities to children and pregnant women living

in prisons.

Using funds from the British Embassy, Bekaert and his colleagues provide additional

care to the 11 children and seven pregnant inmates at Correctional Center 2 (CC2),

which has the highest number of child residents nationwide.

To mark International Children's Day on June 1, diplomats and Licadho staff members

helped organized a concert with blind singer and traditional Khmer musician Kong

Nay, along with their fortnightly delivery.

Similar performances took place in other provincial prisons across the Kingdom.

Kimhour, a 30-year-old prisoner at CC2 who brought her 1-year-old daughter to listen

to the music, said the regular care packages make a big difference to her life and

that of her child.

"[Before] asking for medicine was like a dog asking for a bone. I needed money

to pay for the medicine," Kimhour said.

But now she can request items from Licadho staff and with Bekaert's assistance, those

basic necessities can be delivered to her.

Licadho appealed to any organizations interested in becoming involved with the Adopt-A-Prison

program in Svay Rieng, Pursat, Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampong Thom or Banteay Meanchey

provinces to contact the NGO.



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