Andong & Cambodia
The children we support all come from Andong Village, a slum area established when the government evicted families from their homes in the central riverside district of Phnom Penh. These evictions crippled the families as they were forced to move too far away from the city and their livelihoods - it would cost them more than their daily earnings just to travel to the city each day for work. This is not an isolated incident of this government policy; unfortunately its short-sightedness brings with it a huge range of social problems stemming from the helplessness of these families to improve their situation.
Andong village is home to approximately 6000 people. Most families are housed in dilapidated shacks made from scrap wood, metal and other found items. There is no running water and the village is often flooded, with dirty lakes and pools spilling over the roads in monsoon season. Illness is rife - hastened by unsafe drinking water, a lack of sanitation, poor waste disposal, exposure to insects, very poor or subsistence nutrition and no access to healthcare. In short, Andong is an unsafe environment for children to grow up.
'Ethical' Traveling in Cambodia
An impoverished history and industrialist culture has created a generation of over half a million orphans in Cambodia. Initially, orphans were a result of the Khmer Rouge atrocities however, with the fall of the Pol Pot regime in 1979, these original orphans are now adults. Given the substantial aid received from outside of Cambodia and the enterprising nature of Cambodian people, the country has now created an industry of orphanages, many of which house children who are not true orphans but are born into poverty or dysfunctional families.
A small note for those planning a visit to Cambodia. Please note that several orphanages are run as businesses that capitalize on tourism. So if you are visiting Cambodia, please be aware that handing over cash or simply visiting an orphanage as an attraction, may not be the best means of supporting the children.