With the rapid development in Sihanoukville, hundreds of poor families from the countryside are moving to the city to work on local construction projects. This often involves moving from one site to another when a building is finished. Many families bring their children and most live in crowded, makeshift housing camps at the sites.
15 year old Keng* moved to Sihanoukville with his family from Kandal province a few months ago when his mother and father found work as laborers at a local construction site. At the site Keng, his parents, and two younger siblings live in temporary housing along with about 10 other families. When Keng was living in Kandal he went to school regularly but dropped out when he moved here. Living at the construction site he was responsible to do the dishes and the cooking for his family while his parents worked.
M’Lop Tapang met the family recently and as of this week Keng and his siblings are back in a classroom, studying at our Education Center. The program at our Center helps children who have been out of school catch up with their studies. Transportation to and from school is provided as well as is a healthy breakfast and hot lunch.
“I really like computers the most.” Keng replied when asked what he liked most about coming to M’Lop Tapang “I never had the chance to learn before but now I can”.
We have had many new students in just the last week join our education programs. We know that there is so many more living in temporary construction sites that could benefit but it is not always easy to get permission to get into the construction sites to talk to families (many owners think we will slow down the work in progress), to follow up with the families sometimes as they move from job to job, as well as difficulties in getting official paperwork/documents from local authorities for children to enter our programs.
*name and photo changed for confidentiality