New $850,000 care facility for ‘disadvantaged’ children

Lidia Ginesta (centre), pictured at the Dei Koma facility opening on Thursday, founded her NGO in 2008. Sam Walker
Lidia Ginesta (centre), pictured at the Dei Koma facility opening on Thursday, founded her NGO in 2008. Sam Walker

New $850,000 care facility for ‘disadvantaged’ children

A new NGO-run home-care facility opened in Siem Reap on Thursday, one of the largest complexes of its kind in the city. The crowning project of Together for Cambodia (TFC), an NGO founded in 2008, the $850,000 centre will eventually provide residential care for 150 children.

The facility, Dei Koma (or “children’s land” in Khmer), has in fact been operating since construction was completed four months ago, explained Lidia Ginesta, TFC’s founder and president. It currently houses 40 children, all of whom came from the NGO’s older facility located behind Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital. Funds for the new centre were raised primarily in Spain, the US and Australia.

Thursday’s ceremony marked the opening of all three projects that Dei Koma will run on its grounds: the “alternative care centre”, a school and a community sports complex.

The centre took three years to complete, Ginesta said.

The school holds six classrooms and will be open to both residents and members of the community, offering classes in English and Spanish language, as well as computers.

The sports complex contains four football fields along with basketball and volleyball courts.

The alternative home care designation comes from a memorandum of understanding signed with Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation.

The facility includes a sports complex open to the community. Sam Walker
The facility includes a sports complex open to the community. Sam Walker

Like many such centres in Cambodia, Dei Koma hosts many children who are not – strictly defined – orphans. “We don’t like the word orphanage, because not all the children are orphans, and the word orphanage has a negative connotation,” Ginesta said this week.

However, the children that TFC cares for are some of the most “disadvantaged”, Ginesta said, including some who have appeared in court after suffering abuse, and those who have been put out on the street by their own families. TFC also supports children living with their grandparents.

Each of the children – ranging in age from seven to 19 – have come on the recommendation of the Ministry of Social Affairs. James Sutherland, spokesperson for Friends International, which has staff on the ground in Siem Reap, told Post Weekend this week that, while he couldn’t offer direct comment on Dei Koma, there remained too many institution-based care providers in Cambodia.

“Ultimately, we don’t want children in institutions. There need to be transitions – less residential and more community involved,” he said. “Institutionalisation should always be the last resort.”

Dei Koma operates on strict regulations – especially when it comes to volunteers – and boasts its own team of counselors, house mothers and cooks. Most rooms are private. Ginesta explained that they placed strong emphasis on quality and conditions.

“I don’t think there’s a better place in Siem Reap nowadays,” she said. “We would like to be able to help more children in a short period of time.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Ethnic group ‘disappointed’ to be denied French visas to attend court

    Eleven people at the centre of a case involving seven indigenous Bunong villages in Mondulkiri province pursuing legal action in France have expressed disappointment after the French embassy in Phnom Penh denied their visa applications to attend court. A press release said the 11 included a

  • Cambodia nabs 12th place in best retirement destinations

    Cambodia is an expatriate hotspot for those dreaming of living a more luxurious lifestyle at an affordable cost, according to International Living’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2019. For the fourth year in a row, Cambodia took the top spot in the Cost of Living category.

  • EU starts EBA withdrawal

    The EU on Monday announced that it has begun the 18-month process of withdrawing the Kingdom’s access to its preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement over “a deterioration of democracy [and] respect for human rights”. However, the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) said

  • PM: War result of foreign meddling

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Sunday that Cambodia’s recent history of conflict was caused by foreign interference. “The wars that happened were caused by provocation, incitement, support, smearing and interference from foreign powers, and the group of ignorant people who pushed Cambodia to