M’Lop Tapang’s Child Protection team often works with youth in conflict with the law as well as with their families.
One of the recent cases they have been working with is with 15-year old Vannak* and his mother. Vannak, who had never been in trouble with the law before, was arrested more than six months ago for theft and has been in prison since then awaiting his trial. He was caught breaking into a taped off crime scene (closed casino) and stealing a case of soda (a value of about $7USD). He was part of a larger group of older youth and adults who had broken into the building and stole equipment and supplies. He was the only one of that group to be caught by the police.
Pearoth (in the photo above), one of our Child Protection social workers, has been meeting with Vannak’s mother to help her to understand the prison system and what expect during the court trial and procedures. This single-parent mother, is like many that our teams work with: illiterate, living in poverty, and scared. Unaware of who she could reach out to for help, her son had been in prison for 2 months before a neighbor told her she should call M’Lop Tapang.
“M’Lop Tapang explained to me so much. I didn’t meet my son for 2 months because I didn’t know how to do it. They helped me to contact him when he was in prison and what to do when we go to the courts. Before, I was only thinking that with no money how do I get my boy back? With no money I felt it was hopeless.”
Our teams have also been visiting with Vannak since we became aware of his situation and providing support. M’Lop Tapang employs a lawyer part-time who has been assisting with the case and helping to reduce the charges. Late last month the first stage of the trial was completed and this week the second and last part of the trial was concluded. The verdict was that Vannak will be released next month. He has already decided that he will join one of M’Lop Tapang’s vocational training programs when he is out.
“If M’Lop Tapang did not help I am sure that my son would still be in prison for a long time.”
*name changed for confidentially