Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - From street living to a steady job

From street living to a steady job

From street living to a steady job

CHHAN Daravuth, 19, is one of the best employees at the JRSC printing house. He has

worked there for nine months, earning 10,000 riel a week to help support his family.

"My future is in here," he declares.

Two years ago, Daravuth lived on the streets near the Central Market, and slept on

the pavement, after leaving his family.

"I lived with my parents, my aunt, my grand-mother and my sister. My parents

worked at a construction site but they did not have much money."

One day, he decided to leave, and took to the streets, hanging around with a gang

of 10-20 street children.

He did whatever he could to earn a few thousand riel, picking up occasional work

washing cars or helping in restaurants.

"It was mostly just money to eat, buy clothes or shoes. Life on the street was

not so difficult but sometimes we didn't have enough money."

Some of his friends used to go away with foreigners at night, and reappear in the

morning, he recalls. "They said that they went to hotels with the foreigner

but I never asked them what they were doing there."

Daravuth and his friends expelled four or five kids from their group. "They

were not good and committed robberies to earn money," he says. "The life

on the street is very free. But I realized that I had no future there."

Deciding to make a fresh start, he went to Little Friends on August 1, 1994. He remembers

the exact date.

"At the beginning it was difficult to lose my liberty [but] they gave me support,

they fed me. In return, I swept the floor to help the NGO."

Ten kids in his gang also went to Little Friends. The rest refused.

"I tried to convince them to come, but they chose to go back to the streets.

They didn't like to depend on an organization. They thought that they wouldn't be

free enough."

After a year living at the Little Friends house near Tuol Tum Pong market, Daravuth

started training at the printing house.

"The NGO found the job. It is not guaranteed that I will have a job in this

factory after my training is finished, but I really would like to."

Daravuth recalls that when he joined Little Friends, there were only 40 children.

Today, the NGO, now called Mith Samlanh, helps more than 300.

"It's very good for the children in the streets, they have more opportunities

to go and have food," he says.

He is adamant he will never go back to the street, even just to talk with the children

living there, saying: "I have no time."

Daravuth is now back with his family. He sometimes goes back to see the staff and

friends at the NGO center but not very often.

"They do not need me any more," he says with a smile.

" I remember when I was sitting and eating with my friends at Little Friends.

It was like a family." After a moment of silence, he adds: "I have two

families now."

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group