In the previous quarter, there have been some interesting interventions and family strengthening implementations from Mlup Russey for at-risk children and their families in Borvel district, Battambang province.
background of the target areas.
Borvel district is one of the MRO target areas in Battambang, which shares its border with Thailand. This has produced jobs and business opportunities, but unfortunately for the poor, this has become a trap and a future risk that they would like to take through illegal migration. It is the reason that most families in the area left their children behind with their relatives or grandparents, and some children have been left with their neighbors.
Beside this social issue, the areas more often face the hit of disasters such as flooding, strong winds, and dry land. This is also another reason that income generation through agriculture is not that possible and effective in the areas, and most farmers are leaving their homelands for migration.
difficult and risky situation faced by children and their families in the areas.
Children have been left behind and are living with family members while their parents are in Thailand working, and some are losing information and connections. The children who are with their relatives or grandparents are facing leaving education, not receiving proper nutrition, not having their basic rights protected, and also facing abusive possibilities as well, such as sexual abuse, violence, ignorance, exploitation, etc. Some children have been sent to residential care institutions expecting to receive proper food, shelter, and education, even though they are not orphans.
Response and support of Mlup Russey to children :
After we received the case engagement invitation from Battambang DoSVY and local authorities, MRO started the initial case assessment with all relevant authorities, such as CCWC,WCCC, district, and commune leaders. The assessment’s outcome helped us develop a clear responsive and intervention plan according to the services MRO has, as well as those described below:
provided emergency food support packages for 3 OVC families that contain 5 children and 1 female. These families lost their daily food supplies for the members, which was risky for the children’s mental and physical health. Family members, including children, had received basic counseling from MRO staff to boost their inspiration and commitment. The 5 children found they don’t have a birth certificate, which is very important to the rest of their lives, and MRO is working with relevant authorities to get them their birth certificate to claim their rights and needs, especially for education. Along the way, we are also working with nearby schools to assist their education enrollment and search for supportive possibilities that enhance their proper and regular education.
An underprivileged child who is disabled and left behind to live with his poor grandmother has received an emergency food support package and family-strengthening supportive activities from MRO staff. The grandmother said that the boy’s parents are working in Thailand and only sometimes send some money for the boy's food. Through our staff's observation, the boy cannot walk and is often sick due to a lack of proper nutrition. The emergency package was just an immediate response according to their emergency, and it is also a first connection with the case to understand specifically the issue and needs that MRO can use to develop a proper response plan. Like this family and children, our staff has also worked with the boy's mother, who would like to come back but is worrying about her lack of skills and how to support herself and her child. Basically, our first thought is to engage her with vocational training skills and support this family with kindship care. We hope these services will be useful for this family to have skills for income generation, and the child will be receiving his mother's care. Along with these services, positive parenting and other important soft skills will also be provided for behavior and attitude improvement for family harmonization.
A poor boy who has been burned by a gas bottle explosion asked for help from the local authority ,as his poor single mother could not afford for his treatment .She is also accountable for her very old and sick parents and her other two children. MRO has cooperated with local authority to gathering all information and needs of the children and family through an assessment. this family and children information have been analysing and MRO is going to facilitate an case conference meeting with all relevan partner including local potential people, business sector, NGOs in the areas and authority for resource gathering to sustain this family for welbeing and posibility of income generaton activity. and surely the children will be facilitated for proper and regular for education. Anyway, MRO has done its immediate response thought emergency package for the family and get the injured child for proper treatment.
A poor old man seeks life's assistant as he is taking care of an abandoned child and his two grandsons, whose parents got divorced and left to work in Thailand. This old man said that he is running out of resources for daily food since he is old and sick and cannot access the job properly. The situation is getting worse while the three boys are growing older and require better feeding and support. He really loves them and doesn’t want to leave them in an orphanage, but in fact, the boys are missing a lot of essential needs according to their rights. Like the cases stated above, MRO is working with its community partners, including relevant authorities, to search for support and assistance according to their needs, including emergency needs, and long-term needs that are considered part of the family’s strengthening.
MRO has played a vital role in drawing attention to the cases of OVCs and ensuring that relevant partners, NGOs, and government structures are held accountable for providing existing services that respond to the needs of OVCs and their families. We hope that these children will receive good care from their biological parents/families, and that all forms of violence against children will stop. We also aim to strengthen families to prevent unnecessary separation and promote meaningful participation, ownership, and the use of existing resources for the sustainability of child development and protection in Cambodia's community.
We would like to ask for your participation, joining us, Mlup Russey, to support these underprivileged children through a trusting and effective strategy by donating to our cause. We are trying to raise funds to replace our old car, which will enable us to extend our services to remote areas where support services are hard to reach.
Mlup Russey has helped Residential Care Institution/Orphanages to preventing family separation and transitioned from Center based care to Community and Family based care.
Because of some deliberate explanations intended to increase its worth and the image of the institution, the meaning of orphanage is occasionally quite complicated and misinterpreted. However, it is merely described as a place for caring for orphans. Additionally, the orphanage is the final resort/option for orphans and vulnerable children, according to the Cambodia Alternative Care Policy, which means that family and community-based care are strongly encouraged and prioritized. Because some orphanages are registered as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work with orphans and vulnerable children, the term "orphanage" has different meanings in Cambodia as "residential care institution."
More than 60% of the children living in RCIs aren't actually orphans, according to our actual experience dealing with orphans and vulnerable children at this Residential Care Institution and from references in the UNICEF study. And some of them faked their identities in order to be chosen to live in RCI with the expectation that they would have a good place to live, wholesome food to eat, an improved educational system, and more freedom for their families from parental responsibility.
Thus, more or less, the presence of orphanage or RCI in Cambodia are the reason of increasing orphan inner the county. This is another reason why the Ministry of Social Work has a strategic plan to reduce the number of orphanages and RCIs in Cambodia while promoting community and family-based care for orphans and vulnerable children through partnership and cooperation with its non-governmental organization (NGO) partners to strengthen community and family-based care; and to prevent unnecessarily family separation for the children. MRO has also become one of their potential partners who are heavily involved in this family's strengthening through various approaches/strategies. One of them is a study tour for orphanages/RCIs to see the best practices of former RCIs that had completely transformed from center-based care to community and family-based care for children.
Dec 8-9, 2022: A study tour visit has been conducted in cooperation between MRO and MoSVY as we arranged a different RCI Directors from Battambang province and Phnom Penh to visit MRO’s Partners (Transitioned RCI) Mom Against Poverty Cambodia (MAPC) and Stellar Children Care Organization (SCCO) aim to increase their capacity in relation to community and family-based care for children as well.
Dec 18-19, 2022: As a result of the RCI meeting at Kep City, transitioned RCI Directors have established some of the community programs (Neang Bai Tong group, Youth group for the community for children, and parenting club) in responding to the needs of Orphan and Vulnerable Children in their target areas. This is one good evidence to encourage that the children are cared for in the community by their parents and community with a different program. Sharing and exchanging ideas between transitioned RCI has given them some important clues for dealing with the process and procedure of transition.
Mrs. UN Samphors passed a request from Neang Bai Tong Group as they are proposing a meeting with MRO to discuss and clarify some of the ideas and suggestions in relation to their willingness and commitments regarding environmental issues.
A significant suggestion from Mr. SAM Piseth is that he proposes a conference/workshop for orientation about the transition process to other Residential Care Institution Directors as it is very important and goes along with MRO’s strategy in promoting community-based care for children over RCI care.
Results for first visit to MAPC: RCI Directors had the opportunity to hear from the children directly about the different feelings between living in a Residential Care Institution and the life in the Community with their family. The children in the community said they have more confidence to live in the community rather than a Residential Care Institution because they can communicate with other people in the community, and they have improved their life skills through community people and their family. RCI Directors have appreciated the commitment of an elderly mother regarding the question from Mrs. Koun Chenda: “Without the supports from MAPC, what will you do?” Mother answered: “I will encourage my four children to continue their studies as I really don’t want them to live in a hard condition/poverty like me.”
This study tour provided a lot of inspiration for the RCIs who came to visit, as they saw the possibilities for turning the Center/Orphanage into another source of support for the children. At the same time, they have received some motivation from the government, MoSVY, the government supporting systems and strategy plan that have assisted the vulnerable and orphan to sustain their living in family, but the government requires more partners to join hands to strengthen family livelihood and help them apply positive parenting skills. So this appears to be an opportunity for them to reallocate their existing resources and prepare a proposal to their donors with a new approach and strategy, or to supplement their existing implementation to support family reunification in the process of children reintegration.
Be noted that some RCIs don’t have plan and budget for children reintegration which make the process of reintegration very complicated and risky to the children as they are backing to their family in the community when the support are not properly readied for them.
More than this, RCIs which had been transitioned have shared about their community and family engagement programs which are really effective in supporting the wellbeing, livelihood, and maintaining a good relationship between vulnerable children’s family members and also preventing family separation; and the important thing is that they don’t hold accountability of the children’s lives as their guidance. The directors state that this is their release comparing to their services ran as the Center for the children which they have to take fully accountable for all the children, including food, safety, education, wellbeing, development, and other standard of living that have to fit the Minimum Standard Policy of Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation(MoSVY).
Lastly, we are local NGO feel so blessed to be apart working to protect the children to ensure their right would be fulfilled and more to supporting them to be in the care of their biological family which is the blessing attachment from birth and every children deserve to have. The expression of NGOs partners who came for this visit and also Government officers, stated that Mlup Russey is truly a child safe organization and strongly support the care of family and join hand with a good work to prevention unnecessary family separation.
MRO: In the last quarter, there have been 5 serious cases of abandoned children who are left behind with their very poor grandparents. All the children are unfortunately losing their basic needs and rights that cause harm to their development and safety.
The local authority called for intervention from the MRO to take care of the cases and hope that the vulnerable and orphan children can be restored, meeting their needs and rights to live, and having access to proper development.
According to our assessment and visit, we see the Children actually face a lot of challenges and seem to face some kind of exploitation, and abuse, both physically and emotionally, by their poor, old, and stressful grandparent. The children have not attended school regularly since their grandparents bring them for begging money along the street and collect plastic bottles in the village to exchange for small money ( Et Chay).
Following the evaluation, MRO purposefully convened case conferences and meetings with the relevant authority partners to look for available resources to respond to the needs of these children and their families.
As a result, there have been a lot of hands collected from various NGOs, authorities, and private sectors putting to support these misfortune children and their families. They first provided emergency food packages and searched for their family members and relatives, as it is the primary option before alternative care services. Finally, we found their trusted, close family member with whom we can further work, promoting family based on care and prevention, avoid unnecessary family separation. Furthermore, all of the kids are starting back up in school, and their families have promised never to stop them again. The children's education will be supported by several NGO partners up until they complete grade 12. In order for the families to be able to take use of the free services and supports offered by the government, the authorities are trying to create an ID poor card for them. Additionally, MRO keeps working with its partner to provide these OVC (orphan and vulnerable children) families with the chance to better their standard of living through activities that generate revenue. Parenting advice, coaching, and follow-up are all provided.
There have been 18 misfortunate children have been intervened and supported.
By 2021, MRO had completed its phase 3 project cycle and was facing significant funding issues. We are fortunate that MRO still has two funders committed to supporting us in phase 4, which runs from 2022 to 2024. However, because of drop-in some support, MRO chose to restructure and develop a new strategy to safeguard and serve Cambodia's OVC. Two significant developments occurred during the reorganization process. Those were changes to the organization's structure and personnel.
As a result of the restructuring, 19 staffs have been hired, with six of them serving on the Management Committee, which oversees and directs this local organization. We decided to have two offices, one in Phnom Penh City and the other in Battambang Province, because of the financial value. We anticipate that this will lower transportation expenses and improve the effectiveness and speed of our case intervention service.
Despite some significant changes inside Mlup Russey, our services and strengths continue to be active for the best interests of Cambodia's orphans and vulnerable children. Furthermore, we are expanding our services to new target locations where OVC there have not been adequately supported and safeguarded. We began capacity development and staff orientations in the first quarter of this phase 4 to ensure that our staff is capable of implementing the MRO plan and can apply any government guidelines, standards, and best practices for the protection of children and in their best interests. In addition to the internal preparation and staff capacity development, our team have implemented and delivered MRO services for OVC and their families throughout the same time period.
Obviously, four OVC cases were reunited with their biological families in the first quarter. In the case of a youngster, after discussing with the appropriate authorities, we decided to refer him to a standard Residential Care Center for long-term care because the search for his family and relatives revealed that he has none left.
In addition, the other three OVC have been intervened and supported by cooperation between MRO and the Authority. These three children have been deprived of their basic rights and are subjected to exploitation and domestic violence. Following the intervention, these three children were given food emergency packages and are able to return to school. Their families also received counseling and advice on how to raise their children in a positive manner and how to avoid using domestic violence. Local authority promise to take regularly observation and follow up to these families to ensure there won’t be any violent and children keep going to school.Local authorities there have been educated on how to work with children and their families as a result of this process and may be inspired to learn more about working to help OVC since they perceive many dangers that the children may face in their communities.
Strengthening Authorities for accountable responding to
the needs of Vulnerable Children
In some remote areas in Cambodia, many children still miss the opportunity for schooling and other development. One of the main reasons behind this is that they don't have a birth certificate to identify their identity. Without this essential official document, there would be a disaster for their whole life living without true identities, could not access any necessary available services according to their right, and were not protected.
So that, helping Orphan and Vulnerable children to have a birth certificate is an essential support in our case management process for getting them away from the possible risks and having their best interest regarding their rights.
Indeed, in Rom Lech village, 2 Crocodile commune, Pusat province, approximately 90 percent of children from 0 to 16 years of age remain without birth certificates. According to the child protection policy, they are already at high risk for their situation without birth certificates. That means they are already losing important services and protection. Our staff has been visiting the area intended to access the reason behind this and witnessed the information given by the local authority that most families are impoverished and located far from the commune center.
After gathering information, we have been working with the Department of childwelfair by gathering relevant authorities in a meeting to identify any possible and practical intervention activities for helping those vulnerable children to get birth certificates.
Many ways have been raised to sort the problem out, but it seems challenging to carry them out with the difficult road and the safety for the children. Finally, the authorities have decided to bring all the relevant materials such as computers, printers, and other stuff to the closest areas to the children's house. It was the surprising and tear of joy to see this going to happen, for it seemed impossible and rarely happened, seeing the commitment of commune officers willing to do such a thing.
As a result, the plan worked very well, and 105 vulnerable children have received their birth certificates within two days from the strong will and commitment of the authorities. During the event, the vulnerable children who are at high risk are also identified and noted for intervention by local authorities. And More than this, the families who brought their kids for birth certificate also were educated from the local authorities about the important of having birth certificate for their children.
As a local NGO who are working for the life changes and better life of Orphan and Vulnerable children, we are so happy to see the changes of behavior and attitude of duty bearers who commit and put themselves in the effective accountability in their job for the protecting the children and their best interest.
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