written by Kylie Foley
Updates about projects in Cambodia appear on World Vision’s blogs every year.
The enormous success and progress in the poorest nation in Southeast Asia is worth reporting on, but what makes this country different?
World Vision made their entrance in Cambodia in 1970, founding what is now known as the National Pediatric Hospital. World Vision continued to expand immediate aid to the country, but the regime of the Khmer Rouge was faster. By 1979, only three of the 270 staff were alive, but World Vision was ready to help in the healing process for this broken country.
Within five years of the Khmer Rouge siege, the educated masses of Cambodia were extinguished. Adults became parents without having experienced a childhood of their own. Poverty ran deeper than the mighty Mekong river flowing through the middle of the rice paddies. As sex trafficking came into the world’s lexicon, the brothels in Phnom Penh were full of girls and boys who were sold, tricked, or forced into a life of pain and uncertainty. Recovery for the Khmer people would take generations. Working with this in mind, World Vision Cambodia has been an outstanding example of how short-term relief can turn into long-term sustainable partnerships.
After the genocide, World Vision provided immediate aid and assistance to families suffering from the horrors of war and oppression. By the 1990s enough progress had been made to start child sponsorships and area-specific projects in provinces throughout the whole country. Villages across the nation were starting to see World Vision as a tool for a better and healthier future.
64,000 children are registered in World Vision’s sponsorship in Cambodia. We hope to improve the quality of education and increase anti-trafficking programs. Stopping child exploitation is one of World Vision’s top priorities, and the Cambodian government is also improving their efforts to stamp out the horrendous issue.
Like any other country, it’s important to be sensitive to the cultural and social parameters specific to that context. With a population that is over 93% Buddhist, World Vision provides support without regards to religion, economic, or political status. Street families who want their small children to beg are encouraged that education is a better option. Microloans are offered through Vision Fund Cambodia and sensible and smart borrowing is developed within a culture that marks debt or lending with a sense of shame. Carefully yet boldly, World Vision Cambodia tries to help the Cambodian people live out beautiful stories, no matter how those stories began.
Try not to forget Cambodia. This is a country that is rarely talked about, but severely scarred from its recent history. There will come a time when the genocide of the 1970s will not affect the daily lives of millions in Cambodia. World Vision is proud to be one of the many tools sculpting a future Cambodia that won’t just be worth remembering, but also admiring.
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