Mith Samlanh provides special services for street children during ASEAN meeting

PHNOM PENH, May 22, 2009

The Municipality of Phnom Penh and local NGO Mith Samlanh are working in collaboration to provide safe shelter for street working and living children during next week’s ASEAN meeting in Phnom Penh.

In the past, children and families living on the streets have been arrested and put into detention or prison before such events in what are often referred to as ‘clean ups’. Upon hearing about the latest ‘clean up’ at the occasion of the upcoming ASEAN meeting to be held in Phnom Penh on 27-29 May, Mith Samlanh approached the Municipality and proposed an alternative solution, in which Mith Samlanh will invite street children to come to its centers and participate in a week long holiday camp in Kampong Speu . 50 children have already accepted the invitation and Mith Samlanh’s Outreach Team will continue to inform children and youth it meets on the streets over the next few days about the camp and encouraging them to participate.

Mith Samlanh believes this solution provides a much safer, beneficial solution to moving children off the streets and is pleased that the Municipality has agreed to give them responsibility for this and is supportive of the initiative.

In the period leading up to the ASEAN meeting, Mith Samlanh’s drop in centers will operate 24 hours a day so that street children and youth as well as street families have a place to stay during the week and will be encouraging as many as possible to take part in the holiday camp. The camp will be run by Mith Samlanh’s team of social workers and children will be provided with shelter, meals, medical care and a series of activities during this time. The camp will help improve the already strong relationship Mith Samlanh has with children and youth who live and work on the streets. Hopefully some of them will decide that this is a good opportunity to move away from life on the streets and return to education and training.

Co-founder of Mith Samlanh and executive director of Friends-International, Mr Sebastien Marot said of the partnership, “We welcome this collaboration between the Municipality and Mith Samlanh that respects the rights of the children and provides a solution to the Municipality’s needs. We hope that this collaboration will be continued in the future and that this model, that proved effective in other Friends programs abroad, will be adopted as an on-going policy and partnership to the best interest of the children. We also hope that more organizations will join and support this effort.”

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