75 Tonle Bassac Children Now In NGO’s Care

The removal of more than 1,000 families from Tonle Bassac commune has resulted in 75 children being placed in the care of the NGO Friends/Mith Samlanh until a school at the relocation site is complete, an NGO official said Wednesday.

Of 136 families in Village 14 that Friends has been working with since 1996, 43 families have been moved over the last week to the relocation site 22 km outside Phnom Penh, said Friends’ Pro­gram Director Ly Sophat.

“Eighteen families have left their children with us,” she said. “We give them a place to sleep, food, transport them to school be­cause we don’t want them to be ab­sent from classes while their parents build new houses.”

She said that her NGO will have to raise $28,000 to take care of an expected 100 children from the commune.

Tep Sreyday, a 12-year-old now staying at Friends along with a brother and sister, said she ar­rived at the center on May 4 while five other siblings went to the muddy relocation site with their parents.

“There is no school at the new site, it’s difficult to live and there is no food to eat like in Phnom Penh,” she said.

“I came here to stay because my parents have small kids…and they are busy building a house,” said Keo Lyna, 14, as she wept in the company of her 11-year-old brother.

“Here they give us food, clothes, soap and toothpaste,” she said.

Seng Chetra, 10, said his parents have come to visit him once since he came to stay at Friends on May 4.

“If a school is built there I will go to live with my parents. I miss my brothers and sisters,” Seng Chetra said.

Huy Chhor, a Sour Srun representative, said the company has finished building a school at the site but added that it has not yet been furnished.

“We already built a school but there are no chairs and tables yet,” he said, though he did not say when it would be ready to func­tion.

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