Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Celebrating its 20th year, Friends looks to the future



Celebrating its 20th year, Friends looks to the future

In an image supplied by Friends International, families gain production skills so they can earn an income
In an image supplied by Friends International, families gain production skills so they can earn an income. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Celebrating its 20th year, Friends looks to the future

When Friends International, one of Cambodia’s best known NGOs, opened its doors in 1994, the country had just emerged from its years under the UNTAC administration and was still reeling from decades of war and Vietnamese occupation. Poverty was rife, families were separated and employment scarce. For many children, opportunities were hard to come by.

This year, as Friends International celebrates its 20th anniversary, the organisation employs 500 staff around the world, working directly with 60,000 children in countries including Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines as well as here in Cambodia, where it was founded.

Speaking from his new office in Chamkar Mon district south of Mao Tse Tung Boulevard, Phnom Penh, executive director Sebastien Marot said: “Friends is really a Cambodia project that has become international, and for me that’s very special and tickles me inside.

“The opening of the first restaurant in 2000 was very special because it really pushed the vision I had for Friends forward, having the official training, mixing business and NGO – at the time it was quite new, very few people were doing that kind of thing, so that was very exciting,” he added.

Marot also cited putting 2,500 children back into public schools in 2012 as a major achievement as well as having trained approximately 500 young people with invaluable vocational skills in their restaurants and shop.

Friends International, which provides vocational training and skills to disadvantaged young people in order to maximise their opportunities, will mark its achievements with a series of events this year, beginning with a picnic featuring live music on Saturday.

Looking to the future, Marot said Friends plans on further international expansion to countries such as Vietnam. It will also open new training restaurants in Laos and Thailand, he said.

Friends’ vision remains the same as it always was, and for Marot, it can be summarised in three parts. He said: “The first is that children and young people have a fair chance for their future and that no kid is left behind. The second is that local people take ownership for the protection and support of kids in their community. My last dream is to have to close Friends, because we’re not needed any more.”

Friends Acoustic Picnic will take place between 2pm and 6pm on Saturday, February 8 at #215, Street 13. Entry is $3 and free for children under 12 years of age.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Takeo hand-woven silk items provide local high-quality alternative to imports

    After graduating from university and beginning her career as a civil servant at the the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Khieu Sina found time to establish a business that aligns with her true passion – quality hand-woven Khmer goods. Her product line, known as Banteay Srei,

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,

  • 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival draws to close

    Cambodia's 11th Chaktomuk Short Film Festival wrapped up successfully on November 28 after a four-day run, with the film “Voice of the Night” awarded top prize for 2022. Sum Sithen, the organiser of the short film festival, told The Post that the number of attendees to the