The Tropang Sala secondary school is located in Cham Chao, on the dusty outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Cham Chao community is now home to more than 1500 families who were relocated as part of the process of ‘beautifying’ the Phnom Penh city centre and of developing the Boueng Kak lake area. This rapid expansion of what was once a very small community has brought with it many of the social problems which plague poverty stricken inner city areas, including increasing drug use among young people. In reassessing its strategic approaches, Friends has committed resources to going to where those issues are, so its Phnom Penh Kaliyan Mith program now operates a drop-in center in the Cham Chao community which provides a place for these young people to rest, eat, take part in health education sessions, receive counseling from team members and of course to work at moving away from drug use to begin to build their futures.
Prevention is also very much a part of the Kaliyan Mith toolbox, and with this in mind the team were delighted to receive an invitation from the Principal of Tropang Sala school to come into the classroom and talk to the children about drugs – how to recognize them, and the many risks and dangers surrounding drug use. The Principal knew of Kaliyan Mith’s work in the community and knew how valued it was by community members, which is why he took what is actually quite an unusual step of inviting the team to speak to the students on the opening day of the new term.
This is the first time the Kaliyan Mith team in Cham Chao has undertaken such an initiative but the great success of the day has paved the way for other such awareness raising activities to take place in other schools.