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Orphans' claims of mistreament denied

Orphans' claims of mistreament denied

STUDENTS at Les Enfants d'Angkor orphanage, in a meeting with orphanage

officials and the Phnom Penh Post on Jan 30, failed to confirm many of the

allegations made in the Post article of Jan 27.

After a meeting with

orphanage representative Kem Chanta on Jan 27, twelve of the students signed a

letter reneging on their previous claims to the Post that they had problems with

money, electricity, water and food, among other allegations.

However, the

Post was also given another letter - signed by six of the same twelve orphans -

disassociating themselves with the management letter they had signed just four

hours earlier. They added that all other problems, other than the complete lack

of water and electricity, were correct.

The Post is satisfied the

published claim that the orphanage had no water or electricity for six months

was inaccurate. The water and electricity supply during that time has been

described as intermittent, not unlike other areas of Phnom Penh.

At the

meeting, an idea was proposed that a contract be drafted between the orphans and

the orphanage management, with final approval by the Department of Social

Action. By agreeing on rules and regulations, especially about what money and

rights the orphans should be entitled to, it was considered that future

misunderstandings could be avoided.

Orphan Roeun Kosal said that there

was a problem within the orphanage but more related to personal disputes. There

was nobody properly managing the orphanage, he said, while Kem Chanta agreed she

did not visit every day.

There were nominally two managers, but they were

not officially chosen nor did they fulfill their duties by consensus with the

orphans, he said.

The individual conflict was not between management and

orphans, and it was not a big thing, but "an abstract issue sometimes," he

said.

Chanta alleges Yim Deth, one of the orphans who approached the Post

initially, is waging a vendetta against her because she forced him to leave the

orphanage for disciplinary problems. Deth says he left on his own

accord.

The Post was told on Feb 6 that the Social Action Department had

recently visited the orphanage, with the result that new rules and regulations

had been written as well as the appointment of an official manager and the

selection of an orphan to liase with both management and the

department.

It had been claimed that food for the orphans was meager, but

Roeun Kosal said "its not really a big thing... it is not insufficient, it is

understandable but a small matter." Claims made by orphans in the original Post

article that the food allowance was 12,000 riel ($6) a day were confirmed - but

that usually fed 18 people, rather than 20 as reported. It was learned that the

orphans were also supplied with rice, dried fish and prahok.

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