Chanthy – ChildSafe and Creative!

Our Communications Coordinator James spent some time with the Siem Reap teams this week, catching up on the range of work that our Kaliyan Mith (KMSR) #everydayheroes are doing in Cambodia…

A Community Afloat

‘I visited the Chong Kneas community in Siem Reap this week. The community is home to the floating village, a major tourist attraction. However, it’s also a major source of risks to children from the area, who are put to work on the boat trips that bring visitors by the hundreds to the lake instead of attending school.

It was a very hot, dusty morning. After traveling around 12km from the KMSR office by moto to Chong Kneas, we stopped briefly at the drop-in center run by KMSR, then headed off again into the main part of the village.  We then turned, going off-road and down a steepening incline into another part of the village. Dogs barked and children cried out ‘hello’ as I was reminded by Socheata, the Kaliyan Mith Saving Lives Manager that we were actually driving over what (other than during now, the dry season) was usually part of the lake bed.

A Visit To Chanthy

We approached a two-story wooden stilt house, to be greeted there by Chanthy, who is one of thirty trained and active ChildSafe Agents in this part of the community. Smiling, she invited us up to the first floor of her house, where she often holds community meetings, sharing important messages about preventing violence against children with others. When the waters rise again, meetings (and indeed everything!) move up a floor… it was very strange to think that for almost half the year, where we were currently standing would be submerged!

Socheata emphasized that Chanthy was a very proactive agent, contributing immensely to the protection of children and the safety of her community. Chanty is not only helping her community become a more ChildSafe place, she is also helping in its economic recovery. The pandemic had a devastating effect economically upon Chong Kneas with the end of tourism for several years, coupled with increasing bureaucracy around the fishing industry, the source of employment for many in the area.

Skills For Recovery

Chanty runs a small business weaving baskets, bags and plant holders from the reeds that grow in profusion in this area. She is certainly an expert – I watched in astonishment at how rapidly her fingers could intertwine the long strands of dried reed into beautiful and practical products. She is also building futures in her community, as she is currently training seven other local women in this skill – and the orders are coming in fast!

It was time to move on now, we had more to see, however I left with huge respect for the work that Chanthy is doing to make her community a better, safer place. What is key in the effectiveness of ChildSafe Agents is that they come from their community…live in their community… they know their community… they have the trust of their community, and so can truly be said to be instrumental in creating communities which are ChildSafe!’

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