Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Exhibition set to shock tourists out of giving to street children



Exhibition set to shock tourists out of giving to street children

Friends International technical assistance Anna Jolly says the campaign mainly targets tourists
Friends International technical assistance Anna Jolly says the campaign mainly targets tourists. Terence Carter

Exhibition set to shock tourists out of giving to street children

New Friends campaign features images of a limbless Barbie doll in a bid to reduce the number of kids panhandling on Siem Reap’s streets

Spend any time in the Old Market quarter of Siem Reap and it won’t be long before you feel a tug on your sleeve. A dirty young street urchin with sad eyes will be pleading for a dollar to buy something to eat. It’s hard to resist, and Cambodians, expats and tourists are all guilty of surrendering their small change.

In a snapshot study during a 24-hour period in 2014, a Friends International team counted some 600 children selling and begging on Siem Reap’s streets.

It’s a problem Friends’ ChildSafe Network is hoping to tackle with a thought-provoking photography exhibition that opened recently at Kaya Cafe in Siem Reap and is on until March 31.

Titled Think Before Giving To Begging Children, the provocative collection of prints are by renowned French artist Pascal Colrat, whose work is in galleries and museums in Europe.

They include a stencil of a boy and girl stamped on a wooden mousetrap with a pile of coins where the cheese would normally be placed, and an image of a Barbie doll with bloodied stumps where her arms and legs should be.

“It’s mainly tourists we’re targeting, but also Cambodians and expats,” said Friends International technical assistant Anna Jolly. “Expats also give even though they know it’s wrong, but giving is cross-cultural. For Cambodians, it’s cultural, part of Buddhist practice. It’s human nature to see a hungry child and want to help.

“But the only thing it’s helping is to alleviate the discomfort you feel rather than supporting a positive outcome for the child.”

Friends International has designed the exhibition so that it’s mobile and hopes more venues will display the exhibition over coming months to keep the message circulating. Their focus is Siem Reap’s town centre, where the practice of giving money to street children is at its worst.

An image from Think Before Giving To Begging Children
An image from Think Before Giving To Begging Children. Photo Supplied

Of the 600 children on Siem Reap’s streets, about 20 are “street-living children”, who have lived on the streets since they were young and scavenge and beg, said William Sun, Outreach and ChildSafe Community Project manager at the NGO’s drop-in centre.

“It’s slow work for street-living children, and for street-working kids as well,” Sun said. “As long as there are opportunities to make money, they’ll keep seeking them, but it’s something that we’re not going to give up on because we can see the results are
so great when we can get them off the streets and back to school.”

“We just want people to stop giving them money. It’s much better for the children and their families that people support our other activities.”

Sun said people could instead buy Friends International products made by the children’s caretakers. The money goes towards supporting families and keeping kids in school.

“Some people say, ‘Well, it’s out of generosity’ that they give,” Sun says. “And I recognise this, but giving the children money keeps them on the street. When there is potential to get something, the problem will remain.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • Airline says ready for green light to reopen international tourism

    Sky Angkor Airline Co Ltd on September 21 said it is ready to transport South Korean and Chinese tourists to the Kingdom once the Cambodian government makes good on plans to reopen its borders to vaccinated travellers. The Siem Reap-based airline made the remark during a

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • No ‘Crown Prince’ exists to buy France football club: ministry

    The Ministry of the Royal Palace has denied media reports that a Cambodian “Crown Prince” had purchased the AS Saint Etienne football club of France’s top-flight LIGUE 1 at the cost of €100 million ($117 million). In a press statement on September 19, the ministry stressed that Cambodia