A GROUP of orphans are angry about the way they have been treated in their
French NGO-run orphanage, saying they are fed badly, cheated on money and had no
water or electricity for six months.
Twenty orphans - all studying at
university under a program run by Les Enfants d'Angkor orphanage - say that the
reports provided by the Khmer manager of the orphanage to Paris "are a pack of
In a joint letter of complaint, the students say the woman manager
Kim Chantha - who also manages the Renakse hotel - was "living in grand style"
while they "...have hardly anything to eat."
Kim Chantha denied the
complaints when interviewed by the Post.
She said she would give
everything necessary to the students "and if they come up with more problems we
will settle that."
She said she paid the students up to 10,000 riel a
month, though the students claim that often they received less, and some months
none at all.
She also said that recently she had approached the students'
universities to arrange free tuition for them. However, the students say they
still have to rely on loans or gifts of money from their friends to pay study
Orphan Yim Deth, originally from Kompong Thom, said he left the
orphanage in 1993 after a strong argument with Kim Chantha. He said she tricked
provincial orphans to come to her orphanage, then persuaded them to work in her
He wrote a letter of complaint to the NGO head office in
France and the association sent two people to investigate.
Chantha told them she had chased Deth out because he was involved in
"Actually, I told them that I had decided to leave myself
because I couldn't endure her inhuman activities. Being a student, we have
enough brain to think. We can distinguish between what is right and
Deth said that the French staff went home but nothing happened to
The students' complaint says that the NGO's information
bulletins said that enough food, clothes, school materials and support is
provided to them.
However, the orphanage cook told the Post that she
received only 12,000 riel a day to cook lunch and dinner for 20 students. "But
we rarely have breakfast," said one orphan, "and then only a packet of instant
Chantha said that the students complained of endless problems
but she tried to balance and maintain a "medium living condition."
cannot live in a noble life. Only the poor can live in this condition," she
She said she had recently dismissed three students who she claimed
were undisciplined, and that the dismissal was approved by the Social Action
The other students said the three had complained about poor
One orphan said he had been given one shirt and one pair of
trousers in his four years there, and when he complained he was told "It is
better than during the Khmer Rouge."
Chantha had recently bought a
generator that operates for three hours in the morning. The group complained
that the lack of night-time electricity made it difficult for them to study.
Prior to the generator being brought, they had to wash themselves at neighbors'
houses or in the river.
"For the few of us who dare to talk now, we are
already on the blacklist to be kicked out," said one.
"We are afraid to
talk. I don't want to be involved in this but I agree with what you are saying,"
said a newcomer, walking away from the interview.