Education
 Cambodia
Project #16187

Educating 120 street-working children in Cambodia

by Senhoa Foundation
Vetted
Students receiving their bikes & backpacks
Students receiving their bikes & backpacks

It’s the start of a new school year at Lotus Kids' Club.  Always an exciting time but also chaotic, surprising, wonderful, fun, anxious, vibrant, scary, familiar, awkward, amusing, frustrating and joyful.  And many other adjectives. Kind of exhaustingly exhilarating. I think those two words explain well what it is like to work with young children and youth. 

Much preparation goes into the start of a new school year: everything from lesson plans, meeting parents, sourcing materials to providing to the children what they need--school uniforms, notebooks, backpacks, school supplies.  LKC provides a bicycle also for each preschool/kindergarden graduate to encourage attendance. Some students live far from school. We also make sure we have in place a healthy snack for the primary school kids.  his will involve a vendor outside the school as there are no free government breakfast programs in Cambodia. We want our students to be able to focus and not have a growling stomach. 

As stated we provide uniforms and school supplies; children can not attend school unless they have these. This can be a challenge for some parents who cannot afford these items. Our Social Workers and teachers spend a lot of time with parents stressing the importance of education, consistent attendance and the completion of homework assignments.

There will be challenges for the Social Workers and teachers, especially for the preschool/kindergarden teachers.  Fortunately we have long term staff who are experienced with what to expect and are up to the challenges they'll face.

Getting ready for the new school year
Getting ready for the new school year
Excited for the start of the new school year
Excited for the start of the new school year
Collaborating w/ local NGO Treak Community Center
Collaborating w/ local NGO Treak Community Center

We at Lotus Kids Club make a concerted effort to collaborate with other NGOs as well as community organizations and businesses.  Collaboration with other organizations takes a process that requires much thought, communication and planning. During my time helping an organization in the U.S., I experienced a lot of efforts from both sides in the collaboration process and many factors that need to be considered.  

What are the benefits?  How much time and effort will it take?  Do our philosophies and goals match for a collaboration?  Roles and responsibilities need to be decided.  What if conflicts or disagreements arise?  

There are many positives with a collaboration.  There are advantages of getting different perspectives, a few are: a chance to gain more skills and resources, encouraged creativity, and a possible result of monetary savings.  It can be challenging though to be truthful I think it has been much easier here in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  Perhaps because here there are more shared goals already recognized and there are few government services to take advantage of.  Therefore there is more of an incentive to form collaborations. 

Our most recent collaborative success resulted in LKC receiving half the bikes we need for the graduates of our PS/K Program from another NGO.  We worked with NGO in sharing visits, ideas, and our Nurse and LKC provides our donated multi-vitamins to the NGO.  We didn’t really expect anything in return for the vitamins donated but we’re thrilled when they offered to give us the bikes. 

I realize as I write this we’ve had many collaborations, too many to go into detail, so I will just mention two of our best endeavors.  Our collaboration with an NGO that works with special needs children has been a continuous relationship .  We've had the advantage to learn from their Western trained, experienced Nurse to supervise our young Nurses.  We have shared the donated multi-vitamins we received with them.  LKC have accepted 2 children with down syndrome into our PS/K Program referred by them.  They in turn taught our teachers sign language to better communicate with the children. 

Another NGO with a free medical clinic would accept our parents as patients as well as our staff though our families were not in the clinic’s target area.  In return we provided early childhood education workshops to their teaching staff.

The sharing of resources and skills is a win win situation and is a testament that collaborations does work.  We will continue these efforts and continually seek out new collaborations.  

Rachana and Steve with bikes
Rachana and Steve with bikes
Donated bikes
Donated bikes
Washing hands before meals & after bathroom trips
Washing hands before meals & after bathroom trips

At Lotus Kids Club we work very hard to nurture the children—helping them to learn social skills, instilling confidence in them, and helping them to develop their interests and discover what their abilities are. We help them to understand the importance of responsibility and empathy and to begin to realize their place in the world.

These efforts are important and needed in order for the children to be successful in school and in life. We are nurturing their minds, and we know it is equally important that we also pay attention to their physical selves. To this end we do several things.

In our preschool/kindergarten program we teach the children about good hygiene and have them practice what we teach them. Washing before eating and after using the toilet is practiced. They brush their teeth after meals and snacks. In fun ways with stories, songs and games we teach them about good nutrition. As we sponsor them after graduation in primary school we supply them with hygiene supplies throughout the year.

In addition our preschool/kindergarten students and our sponsored primary school children receive comprehensive vaccinations and twice-yearly medical and dental check-ups and follow-up care. They all also receive daily multi-vitamins. We are very lucky as we have been able to secure the vitamins for free from a wonderful organization, Vitamin Angels. And we receive enough vitamins to share with two other nonprofits that we collaborate with.

We know that in order for children to be ready to learn and to focus their efforts on learning, they need to have the energy to do so. So our preschool/kindergarten and primary school children receive a nutritious snack to start their school day. Our preschool/kindergarten students also receive a full healthy meal part way through their morning sessions.

At our Afternoon Community Program, we start off the week with our youth sharing fresh fruit, and our nurse conducts information sessions with the children on proper hygiene and nutrition. She has also facilitated workshops with older youth in the program on issues such as the onset of puberty and their changing bodies.

At ACP, we also teach the youth about different foods and recipes using those foods, and then we cook a meal together. This improves literacy as well as providing good nutritional information. The preschool/kindergarten students and ACP children help with our vegetable gardens.  Learning about and how to grow a variety of vegetables and herbs shows children how their food is produced.   

We at LKC love watching the kids learn and become competent in all that they do. And we love watching them practice what we teach them about taking care of their bodies. Both are important in helping them become successful and healthy adults.

Practicing good hygiene by brushing after meals
Practicing good hygiene by brushing after meals
Enjoying a nutritious lunch
Enjoying a nutritious lunch
Helping prepare delicious, healthy meals
Helping prepare delicious, healthy meals
Regular health checkups with our nurse
Regular health checkups with our nurse
Learning about vitamins with our nurse
Learning about vitamins with our nurse
Proud of the vegetable garden they tend to
Proud of the vegetable garden they tend to

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.

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.

 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Senhoa Foundation

Location: Artesia, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​senhoa.org
Project Leader:
Lisa T.D. Nguyen
Executive Director
Artesia, CA United States

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.