The Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979) deeply affected Cambodia’s people and economy. If the country is now developing fast, the poverty rate remains high and inequalities persist. Almost 20% of the population, both rural and urban, lives below the poverty line. Many come to the periphery of large cities, in search of a better life, only to fall in the poverty trap. Nowadays, 98% of Cambodian children go to primary school. However, they are only 40% to be enrolled in secondary school, and 5% in university. School is in theory free, but it incurs some costs that many families cannot afford (such as buying uniforms, paying for transportation, textbooks, etc).
Convinced that education is the best weapon against poverty, the European Foundation for Cambodian Children (EFCC) was created in 2014. Its goal: to school the children of the poorest village of Phnom Penh and to support them in their development until they become autonomous. EFCC’s children come from the extremely poor villages of Russei, Ruls and Baku, where they live under disastrous sanitary conditions. The children and their families live in unsanitary houses made of wooden planks and sheet metal, surrounded by mountains of garbage. They do not have access to running water or sanitation systems. Instead of going to school every day, they wander in their villages. Some help their families recycle waste.
This begs the question: What can we do to help them break away from this life and to give them a better future, the opportunity to go to school and to escape from poverty?
Graham Moir and Jean-Michel Fournier, who have years of experience working in Cambodian NGOs, share the same vision and the same aspirations for these children’s future.