Riverkids Foundation

a) To prevent the sale of vulnerable children by training and seeking safe jobs for their parents, especially mothers, so that they can support their families and not rely on child labour and child trafficking. b) To prevent the exploitation and abuse of children such as child labour and sexual abuse by providing direct community-based support, both practical for education and food, and psychological with counseling and abuse intervention.
Jun 12, 2012

How You Can Change a Life

Kim, you left us too soon, but donors are feeding.
Kim, you left us too soon, but donors are feeding.

Today, I read again, the love story of Chau and Kim and I felt as if I’m reading it for the first time.

A young hopeful lady, Chau, who traveled from Vietnam to Cambodia to look for a job found herself betrayed, sold to a brothel and trapped in a fake debt. 

She met a young man, also from Vietnam and confided her story in him. Over time, they fell in love. 

Kim worked hard, paid off her debt and freed her. They got married and raised a family, making promising plans for their children’s future. 

Then, Kim lost his job at the blacksmith and his new job paid less, so they had to take their children out of school. It soon became a struggle to feed their children especially when Chau was pregnant with their fifth child. 

Reluctantly, Chau decided to secretly return to her old job as a sex worker, without letting her husband know. This helped the family financially for a while until Chau began to feel weak, she grew sicker and later learned that she was HIV positive. 

Riverkids connected them to an NGO that helps HIV positive people and put her son on antiretroviral medication for free. We helped them navigate the medical system, supported the family with food and enrolled their oldest children in our school programs. 

Their oldest daughter, Nyla excelled at school and Riverkids chose her as one of our Smartypants Scholarship students. Things appeared well as Chau’s condition improved and with Kim’s steady job as a tuktuk driver, but it took a turn. 

As Kim was driving home two days after Christmas, a car slammed into his tuktuk. The surgery was late. Kim died. 

Chau was confronted with the thought of returning to sex work, or worse, to sell Nyla. Grieving, she decided to return to Vietnam with her little children to her mother’s house and later on, she found a job at a bakery shop. 

She decided to leave Nyla in Riverkids’ Weekly Boarding so she can have school. Nyla has made great strides and many friends with challenges like her, and together they thrive with school and meals. A bright future is within their reach.

Food is core in ensuring that our education programs run effectively. Children who are properly fed are able to concentrate in class and learn more. They can enjoy their favourite playtime and have a better chance to graduate from school. 

A sandwich in the morning and a full bowl of rice with pork and vegetable soup make a huge difference. Thanks to many donors who saw this and supported our food program. With $64,000, we’ll be able to see over 600 children at Riverkids fed for the year and safe from child labour, illegal adoption and sex trafficking. Please help us to feed the children.

A social worker from Riverkids brings food to Chau
A social worker from Riverkids brings food to Chau
Nyla gets her little sister ready for kindergarten
Nyla gets her little sister ready for kindergarten

May 21, 2012

A Little Goes a Long Way in Cambodia

Off to the Tamao Zoo!
Off to the Tamao Zoo!

At Riverkids, we choose to work with the most difficult parents and children. The children are at the highest risk of child labour, illegal adoption and sex work.

But many, many of these parents are loving parents who would never let go of their children to trafficking and brothels. They save their meals for their children and that is why the food and nutrition program is so important to support the families we work with.

Some families are resilient. When we arrange for free medication to treat the parents' HIV condition, they gradually recover and once they are able to work, they get back up on their feet quickly and the family will be alright.

For some other families, we have to keep going back to them over and over again, knocking on their doors persistently but gently to say, "There's hope for your future. We have a better plan." 

The promise we make to our families is -- we will never give up on you.

No amount of volunteering or donation for Riverkids is too small. We count every blessing and that’s how January 2012's work was possible. Our families aren't giving up because you're behind them. 

We need to raise $5,000 from 40 unique donors by 31 May 2012 so that we have a chance to fund the rest of the year's food program of $59,000 on Global Giving. This will also qualify us for a permanent spot on UK’s Global Giving. For a small organisation like ours in Cambodia, this means a lot to us! Donate and share our page with your friends. Thank you.

It's play time!


May 11, 2012

Goodbye and thanks

Dear Donor,

I’ve been writing and rewriting this email for a couple of weeks now, so please forgive me for not being very polished as this has been a very hard decision to make.

I’m stepping down as managing director of Riverkids until the end of this year, and Riverkids will need your help while I'm gone. 

Our biggest need right now is feeding the 600 plus children that we care for in Cambodia. You can help for as little as US$9 to feed a child. 

Why am I leaving? 

Margaret Jane

Last November, my youngest daughter was born ten weeks early and tiny. After heart surgery and fifty days in the hospital, she came home. While juggling work at Riverkids and a newborn was intense, it was possible thanks to the amazing teams in Singapore and Cambodia.
Then one morning, I woke up with a happy baby with a mild cold and went to sleep at the bottom of her hospital bed in the intensive care unit where she was fighting to breathe as her lungs had collapsed. 

The next two weeks were a blur, but Maggie is now home and healthier. She needs more care than most babies, and if she gets sick, she gets very sick fast.  

What will happen to Riverkids?

Our day-to-day work in Cambodia is managed by the fantastic Phy Sophon and his team. In Singapore, Elaine Woon and Florence Chea are working with volunteers here and all over the world to raise funds and develop programs.

Most of my daily tasks have already been handed over to other staff and volunteers (although we would love more volunteers, always!) and while I'm home with Maggie, I'll still be involved as one of the board of directors.

How you can feed a hungry child

But I did – and will do next year – a lot of fundraising for Riverkids. I’d like to ask for your help now because I am just plain worried about our food programme. We've got 22 percent of this year's budget pledged. Can you help us get that closer to 100 percent so we can keep our food programme going too?

We feed a lot of hungry children in Cambodia. Breakfasts and lunches, snacks, milk for toddlers, fruit for little kids – food that they just won’t get if we can’t raise the US$64,000 a year it costs to feed more than 600 children. It’s not fancy food. It’s rice and eggs, sandwiches, pork stew with vegetables, bananas and oranges. It’s the kind of food you dish out from a huge pot so the hungry kids can have a second bowl before they go home.

Getting 30% more for free

And Global Giving, because they are awesome, will match what people donate with an extra 30 percent if we can meet a goal of US$5,000 this month. That means if you give us US$100, you're effectively giving us US$130. That extra US$30 means three more children fed that month!

I know what it's like to watch your own baby go hungry. Maggie was born tiny, and she struggled to put on weight. It's terrifying weighing your baby and hoping for a few more grams, that her ribs won't show, that she's not slowly starving, her brain starving -- and then I think of the kids in Cambodia who don't have doctors looking after them, who can't switch formulas because they're getting whatever is cheapest at the market, and their mums can't nurse them because they're standing in a park all night, hoping the police don't harass them, hoping they earn enough with their bodies to feed their hungry baby while their breasts ache with milk.
US$9 is all it takes

It hurts thinking about children going hungry. I know we can feed some of them at Riverkids. It's about US$9 a month for each child in our care. 

When Maggie is finally strong enough, her first overseas trip will be to Cambodia with her big brothers and sisters. I want her to meet her family by adoption, and the country that's given us so much joy. I want to bring her to Riverkids to meet the other little boys and girls there, the ones loved just as much by their families, and to know that those kids got milk and food and a safe place to sleep, just like she did.

(Donations through Global Giving are tax-deductible in the U.S. and could be matched 30%, but you can also give directly online or by cheque in Singapore. For our Donations page, click here)

Thank you for all you've done. Thank you for making Riverkids a safe place for so many children. I can't wait to come back next year and see how much further Riverkids has grown!
Until next year, 

P.S. Volunteer with us too! We have volunteers from all over the world, some working online, some at our office in Singapore and some in the field in Cambodia. A couple of hours a month to six months in Phnom Penh - you can do amazing things at Riverkids with us. You can email Florence at florence@riverkidsproject.org to find out more. 


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