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Picturing the future

Thirteen-year-old Chay Sreypich puts the finishing touches on her brick painting, with many of her friends stopping to admire her work.

She and other disadvantaged kids paint pictures on bricks which are then sold as part of a Friends-International project to buy a permanent site for its Cambodian affiliate, Mith Samlanh, explained fundraising manager Penny Tynan.

“I wanted to draw a picture of a doctor because I want to be a doctor in the future,” said Chay Sreypich.

“When I grow up I will try to study to become a doctor so I can help cure and take care of patients,” she said. “At home everyday, I look after my mother who is sick by washing her clothes and bringing her food and medicine. I try very hard to make her happy so she can get better soon.”

Being a doctor would not only let her help people but also can earn money to support her family, since her father has died.

“Most of the children like to draw pictures of what they want to become in the future. For instance, if they want to be footballers they draw a ball, or if they want to be teachers, they draw books or schools,” said Sen Ratana, head of the Friends-International culture program.

“I think that this program is very important for them because they can show their artistic ability and express to others through their pictures what they faced before they came here,” Sen Ratana said.

The Buy-a-Brick campaign was started in 2006, said Tynan.

“All the children participating in the art class paint bricks. The purpose is to raise funds for the purchase of a site for Mith Samlanh,” she said. “I think that all youth who receive an education and vocational training here are much better prepared for life and becoming fully engaged members of their community.”

Former street kid Ben Kosal, 18, has been living at Friends-International for three years and participates in the art classes.

“I am drawing a picture about how the moon stays among a lot of stars,” Ben Kosal said. “I am looking at them through the window in the dark. I want to show myself through this picture, the dark place meaning that I am a quiet person, the moon that I am a neat person, and the rest meaning that my knowledge is being shared everywhere.”

Pei Seng, 18, said he likes to draw about the environment and views of the landscape of his country.

“I see that some parts of our country are not so good environmentally, and I want to correct it and make it better through my pictures,” Pei Seng said.

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