Project #16187

Educating 120 street-working children in Cambodia

by Senhoa Foundation
at the monthly Parents
at the monthly Parents' Meeting

I have been writing reports for years from my viewpoint. I think it’s overdue for you to hear from the beneficiaries of our work at the Lotus Kids' Club. What follows is recent quotes taken by and translated by the LKC staff. The quotes are from the children and parents. Following that is quotes taken by independent evaluators of our programs from the families we serve. 

Q: What do you like best about being at LKC? (for kids)

A: "I like playing."
   "Eating food. Soy milk is my favorite."
   "Arts and crafts is my best thing at school."
   "LKC gave me shoes."
   "Learning English is my love."
   "Reading books at LKC and soccer are my best."

Q: What have you learned? (for kids)

A: "I have learned the Khmer alphabets."
   "I have learned coloring and cutting."
   "Singing songs and dancing at school with teacher."
   "I learned to listen to teacher."
   "I know how to wash my hands."
   "I have learned English and Apsara dancing."
   "I learned how to self control."
   "I learned and played with a lot of toys."

Q: What has been most helpful from your involvement with LKC? (for kids and parents)

A: "My parents send me to school every day."
   "LKC teacher help me and help my family."
   "LKC have toys for me to play with."
   "LKC gave my mom rice every month."
   "LKC helped my children's education. Without LKC, I couldn't send them to school."
   "LKC helped my children with hygiene and study supplies."
   "My children have good food at LKC, and I am happy for them."
   "LKC helped take care of my children when I am gone earning money."
   "LKC helped loan me money for creating my small business."

Q: What are your feelings about LKC? Why? (for kids and parents)

A: "I am feeling happy and grateful with LKC."
   "My children are having a good education. I feel happy for them."
   "They have yummy food and good health. I am happy seeing them at LKC."

Q: What has been the biggest impact on your family from your involvement with LKC? (FYI we provide monthly parenting workshops that cover a host of topics, including budgeting, hygiene, domestic violence, etc.)

A: "Helped my family deducing some costs."
    "Helped orient me about hygiene."
    "My family not very often fighting as we did before."
    "My husband helps with house work, cooking rice and food." 

Q: How has your involvement from LKC helped your children? (for parents)

A: "My children can write and read Khmer.”
   "My child helps with housework sometimes."
   "They listen and are better with their hygiene than before."
   "They have good health.”

Q: What would be the impact on your family if there was no LKC? (for parents)

A: "It would be difficult for us. I don't think we can still send our child to school."
   "It is very difficult for us. We don't have any support to send them to school."

Q: What do you need LKC to do more of? Do you have any suggestions? (for kids and parents)

A: "More toys and play supplies."
   "We want the best soccer coach."
   "Help my child until they are in University."
   "I want an English and computer teacher."
   "I want a bigger soccer field at LKC."


"I think [the LKC program] is helping to build solidarity and mutual respect between Khmer and Vietnamese children… there is no tolerance of racism, which is good." - Vietnamese mother of boy aged 7


"My daughter is now friends with a [Vietnamese] girl, and she is studying in the public school with her… this makes me happy." - Khmer father of girl aged 7


"My child has improved her Khmer speaking because she is learning from the Khmer children." - Vietnamese mother of girl aged 7


"The children are learning to help each other – there is no discrimination." - Khmer mother of girls aged 5 and 9


"I have seen my boy playing together with a Vietnamese boy in a brotherly way, which I think is very good." - Khmer mother of boy aged 7


"Our children are learning to live together and play together, and that is a really good thing, and now my daughter can speak Khmer." - Vietnamese mother of girl aged 8


Just under one-third of parents also talked about their children being more 'obedient’ and respectful towards them as parents, as a result of being involved in the program. Some parents talked about their child’s attitude having become more positive.


 "My child is happy and wants to go to school all day. She is eager to learn and now feels more affection for her brothers and sisters. She is now smarter, more industrious and more knowledgeable." - Khmer female parent


Some parents talked about the "good teachers" in the Pre-School Program, who were responsible for giving their children a "good education." Some parents discussed their pride in their children's progress and achievements.


"My daughter’s education results are good – I am proud. She has received good advice from her teacher and I know this has helped." - Khmer mother of girl aged 4


Many parents talked proudly about their child’s study results and how much they felt they improved. 


"I am very proud of my daughter - she can sing in Khmer now and speaks better in our own language, too. And she knows how to play with Khmer children." - Vietnamese mother of girl aged 8


"I am so happy that my son is learning at school. He loves to study, and I am very proud of his good achievements." - Khmer mother of boy aged 7


I think the parents and children of the Lotus Kids' Club articulate best what impact we have made and why we need to continue our work thanks to the generous donations from you. Thank you so much.

We love going to school at LKC!
We love going to school at LKC!
Lining up for class
Lining up for class
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.


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Organization Information

Senhoa Foundation

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

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