Walking through the streets of Phnom Penh, one cannot miss the hundreds of little
beggars who bombard you at every hotel, restaurant and shop. You might feel bad not
doing something as easy as giving them a little money: they look so poor and needy!
However, the lovely smile they give you in return hides a much more complex reality.
Giving them money is so far from helping them.
Today, a young beggar can easily make more than U.S. $40 a month, often exceeding
the average salary of Cambodian (professional) adults. Many are sent to help support
family or relatives. Somme are struggling to survive a lone. However, for all children
the seduction and dangers of street life can easily become a trap from witch it is
often impossible to escape.
Unfortunately, much of the money given by concerned individuals ends up paying for
video games, gambling, and liquor. Phnom Penh streets are also becoming more and
more controlled by gangs with a hierarchy exploiting children to benefit the leaders.
Under such circumstances, it is difficult to get off the streets. Return home. Go
back to school. Prepare for a healthy future.
Giving money to street children is not the way to help. Buy them bread, soup or fruit
instead of giving Dollar or Riel. You can also contact member agencies of the Child
Welfare Group, which co-ordinates efforts to meet needs of Cambodian children in
difficult circumstances. Agencies working with street children are listed below.
Now is the time! Phnom Penh does not have to become another Bangkok or Manila for
children. Together we can help prevent an increase in the number of Cambodian children
robbed of their childhood.
Agencies concerned with the problem of street children:
UNICEF (CEDC), World Vision, Krousar Thmey, Holt International, SKIP, Global Network
JVC, ASPECA, ICMC