Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
It was 8:30 am at the Mith Samlanh center. Getting on the back of a motorbike just behind my colleague, Bunroeun, who works with the Drug Team, I was very excited to be going on outreach. Bunroeun drove the bike while he explained to me the activities and the challenges facing the team. The conversation was very interesting and I didn’t notice the time pass by so quickly, I realized that we were just crossing Monivong Bridge which is one of the main bridges that connects Phnom Penh central area to Chbas Ampaov district, separated by the Mekong River. Right after the bridge, was Chbas Ampaov market. It was very busy as it is one of the taxi stations to travel to different parts of Cambodia as well as to Vietnam. In the busy traffic, Bunroeun turned his bike onto a quiet small dirt road along the river bank. We passed by a monastery. Bunroeun stopped his bike and started to introduce me to the villagers. When we arrived, everyone regardless of age came to us with big smile from their hut that built from palm-leaves.
Some told our social workers about the recent events that happened in their communities and what’s happening with the villagers. Some asked the team for medical care. I noticed that most people that we met were women and very young children (between 1 – 6 years old). Then I was told that earlier that morning, some of the villagers and young teenagers were transported to the dump site and to other locations around the city for scavenging and begging. Some of them walk around the city to pick up garbage to exchange for some money. They return home late in the afternoon and sometime in the evening. I then realized I was in a “scavenging village” as they are known. These families live their lives freely but they still need assistance for medical and health care. They also need someone to be able to share their problems. Some of them think of sending their children to study at Mith Samlanh. In the Training Center, we have some students from the village too. To provide an ongoing service in these villages is good for the villagers and the children. We hope to see more children from the village to register at Mith Samlanh soon.