DARA Europe wants to give the children in Andong the opportunity to develop into adults with propects to a better future.
We help by:
- creating a safe living environment;
- providing access to healthcare;
- facilitating access to education;
- stimulating independence;·
- providing personal guidance where necessary.
Family support programs are of great importance to prevent these children from ending up on the street and/or in poor working conditions.
DARA Europe is a Dutch foundation that supports the Cambodian Stellar Child Care Organization (SCCO). By supporting SCCO, DARA Europe ensures that the children in Andong have a promising future.
Dara means starThe name of our foundation comes from the Cambodian word for star: dara. DARA Europe wants to ensure that the children in Andong have the opportunity to develop themselves into true stars. Stars that shine brightly to make Cambodia’s future a positive future. We also hope, as DARA Europe foundation, to bring a bit of light into the lives and future of these children.
From childcare center to family support
In the period of 2012-2018, SCCO’s children’s center in Phnom Penh provided shelter for ten to twenty children from Andong because they could no longer live with their families due to an unsafe or unhealthy home situation. The aim of departure was to later reintegrate the children when family circumstances would allow so. Growing up in a family is best for every child. When this was not possible with one’s own parents, alternative forms were sought.
After intensive preparations with the families, partner organizations and the authorities, SCCO succeeded in offering all children a safe new home in 2018! The children’s center has now closed its doors. These children and young adults still receive financial support in the field of education or daily necessities, depending on the situation and per family, as well as close contact with a social worker. This support continues until these children are adults, have completed a study and/or have found work.
With the education program, SCCO wants to offer the children of Andong and their families a better future. The primary goal of the project is an increase in structural and quality education for all children in Andong. This goal can be divided into three sub-goals:
- More children at school by registering new students
- Children who are already in school are structurally present
- An improvement in the quality of education at the local school in Andong.
Own classrooms and education
SCCO offers children aged 4-5 years free education and preparation for primary school. After this introductory period with both parents and children, we ensure that the children can move on from our kindergarten to the local primary school. After that we remain involved with the children, and if necessary, we provide extra support in the form of a school uniform and learning materials. We also check the presence of the students, in collaboration with the local primary school.
In addition, the rooms are used for weekend programs (such as English lessons) and the children can learn in a playful manner with the many games and puzzles. In this way SCCO offers free lessons to about 100 children aged 4 to 7 years. It’s a huge success! Both the parents and the children are enthusiastic.
Outside the regular lessons, children learn a lot from reading books. Our goal is therefore to make books more accessible for parents and children, so that they can fully come into contact with language. SCCO has its own ‘mini-library’ in Andong where children can relax, read and borrow a book. In addition, SCCO also facilitates the library at the local primary school Kork Rokar.
In the Andong area there is only one primary school (‘Kork Rokar’), with space for 700 students. After years of efforts by SCCO, the Ministry of Education started the construction of 10 new classrooms in 2020. This will allow classes to become smaller and SCCO hopes that the quality of education will improve.
With the right information and family support, parents become involved in the education program and see the added value of education, as well as being given the opportunity to send their children to school.
Workshops and guidance for parents
Many parents in Andong have never had the opportunity to receive education themselves and therefore do not immediately see the added value of this. The extreme poverty and social problems in the village mean that many parents are addicted to gambling, alcohol and drugs. SCCO therefore organizes workshops and coaching evenings. During these evenings, the importance of education and concrete life lessons are discussed, such as how to deal with money, domestic violence, etc.
SCCO provides (temporarily) emergency care for families in urgent need. At the same time, a more sustainable way for families to support themselves is being sought.
In concrete terms, emergency care means that SCCO can provide families with rice for a certain period of time, financial support, or guidance in obtaining medical help in Phnom Penh when necessary.
In January 2016, SCCO set up a sewing center in Andong, under the name Stellar Foundation. This created SCCO’s first income-generating program!
With little or no employment opportunities in Andong, it is an important goal to offer women future opportunities, so that they (as mothers) can also create a future for their children. In the sewing center, mothers of the children who participate in our education programs can take sewing courses and start working. The products made are sold locally and internationally. Unfortunately, production in the sewing center is stopped at the time. All mothers have found work elsewhere and DARA Europe is researching new possibilities along with SCCO.
For further information, please refer to our annual reports. The annual reports (in Dutch) provide a good picture of DARA Europe’s activities in the Netherlands and the developments in Cambodia. Via the newsletters you can stay informed of the very latest developments.
The village of Andong was established in 2006 to accommodate around 6,000 people after they were evicted from their homes by the government in Phnom Penh’s central riverside district. In recent years, several families have been moved from the center of the capital to Andong.
The evictions of these families caused major problems as it costs these families more money to travel daily to and from the city for work than the profit they make. Until early 2016, most families lived in neglected shacks made from scrap wood, metal and other found objects. In 2017, these families moved to stone houses built by an international NGO in collaboration with the local authorities. Despite this small but visible improvement, Andong unfortunately continues to suffer from flooding, which creates many dirty lakes and puddles that make the roads impossible to travel through in the rainy season. Illness is a logical consequence of this. Often unsanitary drinking water, lack of sanitation, poor waste management and insect exposure are factors that contribute to aggravate the situation.
In addition, the social situation in Andong remains worrying: many adults are unemployed, spend their time gambling, are addicted to alcohol and drugs and there is regular domestic violence. Poor nutrition and limited access to health care also make Andong an extremely unsafe environment for children to grow up in.