Senhoa Foundation

Supporting vulnerable persons and survivors of human trafficking by providing income-generating opportunities, social reintegration, and programs for self-empowerment. We believe in: - Income generation so that vulnerable women can gain economic independence. - Educational and social programs for intellectual empowerment. - Using business sensibilities to achieve humanitarian goals.
Mar 1, 2016

Success on Two Fronts

It is refreshing when I feel like the work I do with the teachers is actually making a difference in how they assess and work with the young children of Lotus Kids' Club. And it’s heartwarming when the learning and knowledge the teachers now have has a positive and long-term impact on a child.

Anyone who works with young children knows that each child is unique. When   working with young children it is important to not only know a child’s age but also, and more importantly, their developmental stage. It’s all about ages and stages.

We have a young boy 5 years old in our Preschool/Kindergarten Program where the children are 4-6 years old. We split those children up by age or what stage we believe they are at when they begin the school year. One group who will have another year in our program—the “younger kids—meet for a brief “circle time” before free play. The other group, who has already spent a year in the program, spend more time with a teacher before free play. They will be exposed to more formal learning (letters, numbers, literacy work) in a fun way with songs, rhymes and books.

This 5-year-old boy ended up in the latter group although it was his first year with us. I feel the first success was that the teachers realized that he wasn’t very happy being at LKC. He didn’t interact very much with the other kids, and he seemed sullen and stressed. In the formal learning class he did not participate. There are expectations for that class to begin learning the basics of literacy and do homework, mostly practicing writing numbers and letters. He rarely completed the work. Unfortunately he was also beginning to be absent a lot and not wanting to come to LKC.

After the teachers and Social Worker spoke with the parents it was decided that he was not ready to be in the older kids’ group. He was placed in the younger kids’ group.

This was the second success. He adjusted quickly to the younger group and then began to thrive. He was interacting more with his playmates, he spoke more at the small group circle time even raising his hand to offer his thoughts. His whole demeanor changed to being more joyful and he rarely is absent now.

Our main goal in Lotus Kids’ Club’s Preschool/Kindergarten Program is to prepare the children for primary school. This means instilling in them a thirst for knowledge, to have them feel learning is pleasurable. We want them to feel confident in themselves and competent in their abilities. We want them to be able to communicate their feelings, thoughts and ideas. We want them to develop good self-control. In general we want them to strengthen their social skills and emotional characteristics. This takes practice, and that practice happens best through play and being in the appropriate setting.

For this young boy that setting was one less formal with little pressure to perform at a level he was not developmentally able to accomplish. Without the teachers’ caring, observation and assessment he may still be struggling to just keep up. Now this boy will have a much greater chance of developing and strengthening those necessary skills and characteristics to be successful in school and in fact life itself.

Jan 15, 2016

An Artisan's Story

Our artisans at a self-improvement workshop.
Our artisans at a self-improvement workshop.

Sovanna is 22 years old and one of our most skilled and committed artisans in our program. She came from a farming family with 6 other siblings in the household. Aside from economic struggles, Sovanna had to deal with domestic violence at home.

In grade 8, Sovanna quit school to find more income for her family. Her family wanted her to work in the capital at a sewing company. Although she missed school and wanted to continue her studies, her responsibility to care for her family had her planning to migrate to Thailand for a better opportunity.
In 2010, she was able to move to Siem Reap and found a job as a nanny for $0.50 USD a day. She became friends with one of our artisans who eventually introduced Sovanna to Senhoa and recruited her for jewelry training. She was able to get not only a better salary but also the opportunity to return to school. She began working part-time at Senhoa and continued her studies until she graduated Grade 12 in September 2015. 
“I would like to say thank you to Senhoa Foundation and donors who have supported my education. If I didn’t meet Senhoa, I might be a migrant in Thailand” - Sovanna 
She hopes to continue her studies at a university in 2016.
Our artisans at work. Photo by John D Russell.
Our artisans at work. Photo by John D Russell.
Dec 9, 2015

Evaluating, Comparing & Contrasting

At Lotus Kids Club we feel we have been successful in keeping with our mission statement as well as achieving and keeping our focus on our goals and objectives. Yet we also understand we should not be complacent and that there is always room for improvement. We know it is important to have an outside objective evaluation of our programs if we want to provide quality service to the families we serve. In addition the LKC staff has opportunities to visit and observe programs similar to ours and have trainings from professionals that dovetail their in-house trainings.

We have had both formal and informal comprehensive observations and evaluations of the work LKC does. LKC tries its best to implement the recommendations generated from these evaluations when possible. For example, we’ve made changes to make our Parent Meetings to be more engaging by adding fun activities, we listened to the youth attending our Afternoon Community Program expanding our computer and English learning classes, and our recordkeeping has been upgraded—all as recommended. We at LKC are not afraid of change and know that in fact change is to be embraced if we want to continue to improve our service delivery.

When our teachers and support staff visit other pre-school programs in Siem Reap, they get a sense of what else is offered regarding early childhood education. This proved to be very interesting for the staff comparing and contrasting what they have learned and the work they do at LKC. They visited a government-run pre-school (allegedly one of the best), and they visited a similar program at a highly touted public primary school. They also visited a private, well-funded, Western-run private pre-school.

As our teachers now embrace LKC’s play-based curriculum and have seen the positive impact it has on the children’s learning and behavior they were a bit disheartened to see the government and public school programs’ focus on academics with little time for play. To be fair, government training and resources are limited in Cambodia for early childhood education. I believe visiting the well-run private pre-school program and speaking with the director and teachers validated their work at LKC as they, too, have a play-based curriculum.

We have had visitors with a strong knowledge of early childhood education and a long history of working with young children as well as youth in some cases. They share with the teachers their observations, often praising their work with the children and discussing with them best practice and offer suggestions. This reinforces their belief that we at LKC are providing quality care to the children. That is care and teaching which will help them be successful in their pursuit of education and give them a positive sense of self.  

LKC will continue to evaluate our work to ensure that we stay true to our mission and do our best to reach our goals and objectives.

 
   

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