In 2012 the Friends program Kaliyan Mith Siem Reap began working in two communities – Mondul 3 and Chong K’neas. These were identified as having high levels of school drop-out, poverty and other vulnerabilities. Outreach activities began and it soon became apparent to Kaliyan Mith staff that there were high levels of alcohol abuse in the communities and that the prevalence of parental drinking contributed to other problems seen in the areas.
A snap-shot review of children staying at the Kaliyan Mith Transitional Home indicated that approximately 50% were known to have come from families affected by heavy drinking
Chong K’neas was selected as the community in which Kaliyan Mith would begin piloting an Alcohol Project. Chong K’neas is situated by the Tonle Sap Lake, roughly 15km outside of Siem Reap. It has a high level of alcohol abuse, school drop-out, sanitation issues and disputes over illegal fishing. This area is currently undergoing major tourist infrastructure development that will allow boat trips on the lake – one unfortunate side effect of this has been an increase in the relocation of families and begging children.
Since March 2013, Kaliyan Mith has implemented Non Formal Education teaching classes in Chong K’neas three times per week for school children aged between 8 to 14 years old. On 5th July Kaliyan Mith held its first group meeting for alcoholics. This meeting is called ‘Juoey K’neer’ (meaning ‘Helping Each Other’ in Khmer) and will be held every Friday morning. The first meeting was attended by 11 community members and the atmosphere was very positive. The group is being strongly supported by the Village Chief of Chong K’neas, and is based on 12 Step principles with the objective of helping problem drinkers to stop drinking. Additional family support and medical assistance is provided by social workers from the Kaliyan Mith Outreach team who are already active in the community.