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

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • Passing the test: Is Cambodia’s education system failing its people?

    The Kingdom’s education system needs to grow its people but some flaws might stifle​ this growth Coming from the Khmer Rouge occupation, with the loss of many scholars and academicians and a collapsed government, the education system had to be reconstructed from scratch – one

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia