Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - After street sweep, boy happy



After street sweep, boy happy

A beggar sits near the Royal Palace in Daun Penh district
A beggar sits near the Royal Palace in Daun Penh district. Phnom Penh Municipality issued a directive to remove homeless people from public areas earlier this week. Hong Menea

After street sweep, boy happy

Thirteen-year-old Hanh Vin was scavenging for cans near the Olympic Stadium early on Tuesday morning when police arrived in a caged van to haul him away.

Dressed in a new school uniform, Vin, a slight and shy child, yesterday recalled the moment he knew he had been captured.

“When I saw the police I wanted to escape. But I just stopped and let them catch me because I was worried if I ran away they would find me,” Vin said.

“The police told me they wanted me to go with them to an NGO, but I didn’t want to go; I thought they were lying to me.”’

Vin’s “capture” came a day after a directive signed by Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Seng Ratanak was issued, ordering 12 district governors and the municipal social affairs department to remove homeless people from public areas.

Many of the homeless, beggars and street sellers targeted by the initiative hid to evade arrest.

Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE), one of the partner NGOs charged with monitoring and educating those rounded up, took in 13 of the children swept up by the authorities on Tuesday.

Yesterday afternoon, only Vin remained at PSE’s sprawling centre in Meanchey district. The others were returned to their families yesterday morning.

“We just want to make sure that all kids have a proper place to stay; we don’t want to see kids with no care,” Ouk Sovan, PSE’s deputy program director, said.

Vin struggled to survive on the streets for three years after his father died and his mother abandoned him.

“The only job I could do was scavenge. Sometimes I would sleep in other people’s apartments,” he said.

When he arrived at PSE, Vin said he wanted to go back to the streets. But after one night in the centre, he said he is much happier there.

“I sleep better here and eat better here so I am happy.”

Vin, who attended school yesterday for the first time in more than five years, said he does not know what he wants to be when he grows up. But with PSE offering vocational training for aspiring mechanics, chefs, waitresses, hoteliers and more, he is not short of options.

Sovan said City Hall needs to improve its method of rounding people up, but stressed that the initiative was a work in progress.

“We need to find the best solution for everyone.… I will try to discuss with [City Hall] about finding a way to work together.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Tourists urged not to skip trip

    The Ministry of Tourism has called on international tourists not to cancel trips to Cambodia, but urged them to adhere to several dos and don’ts when arriving in the Kingdom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ministry released an eight-point instruction manual on Wednesday published

  • The taxman cometh – Cambodia’s capital gains tax casts the net on individual taxpayers

    In a country where only limited personal income tax existed, the new taxation law beginning January 1, 2021, will make taxpayers out of Cambodians, whether they are ready for it or not About two years ago, a little known amendment was made to Article 7 of the Law

  • Cambodian-American gets Star Trek treatment

    Kevin Ung, a Cambodian-American whose family escaped genocide during the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror, was recently selected from thousands of applicants to participate in the Television Academy Foundation’s inaugural 2020 Star Trek Command Training Programme, a course intended to give hands-on filmmaking experience

  • Cambodia seeks to be transport hub

    Cambodia is working on several fronts to modernise its transport infrastructure and services, concentrating on opening new international gates to relieve and balance traffic congestion at its borders, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said on Thursday. This is part of the Kingdom’

  • Deminers unearth ancient lion statue

    Cambodia Mine Action Centre (CMAC) director-general Heng Ratana told The Post on Tuesday that a statue of a lion was found by mine clearance experts while they were digging for a development project. It was sent to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts last

  • PM: West unfair to Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen released a message celebrating the International Day of Peace on Monday, saying that some major powers and western countries had been systemically cooperating to put political pressure on Cambodia as they did in the 1970s and 1980s. Hun Sen said pressuring