The Families In Cambodia most low-income families live in a simple, wooden house, no bigger than a living-room in the 'west'. The parents, grandparents and children, even aunts and uncles and their babies - all live in the same house. They have no mattresses, no clean water, and no electricity.
As a result of extreme poverty, many of the parents of Anjali kids struggle to feed their families. Contributing to this are factors such as:
Illness: AIDS and tuberculosis are unfortunately common in Anjali families and the price of treatment is simply unaffordable for families who often struggle to feed themselves.
Under-Employment and Urbanisation: Most of the families we are helping are unable to find work because they never received any formal education or training; especially because of the war. The rural population is increasingly migrating to the towns in the hope of finding a way to earn more money than in the countryside and provide more for their families. The jobs they generally manage to obtain, often with difficulty, are washing dishes, collecting rubbish, begging, or selling books, postcards and roses to tourists. Selling on the street or begging is not as easy as you would think, with obligatory payments to local mafia types necessary to ensure permission. Families make most of their money by sending their children to beg. To give you an idea, low-income working Cambodian families, such as those who have kids at Anjali, can earn on average $50 a month, but some as little as 30 dollars a month.
How we help
We hope to ease some of the pressure experienced by the parents of Anjali kids by providing their children with free basic care and education. Our full-time Khmer staff provide a comprehensive care and support network for the children and the family atmosphere nurtures their fondness for learning and self-expression. Their time at Anjali also gives them a vital opportunity to meet and interact with other children in a positive environment, form friendships and learn collective responsibility.
In addition, we provide a weekly subsidised rice allowance which the kids take home on Fridays to help feed their families. This is an important substitute for the income loss incurred by families who have chosen to enrol their children at Anjali.
We also provide psycho-social support through our social workers, who visit the children's families and offer advice and emotional support when needed. Violence and alcohol are destructive factors in some families, where poverty, disability, unemployment and stigmatisation can contribute to a sense of despair and depression. Various addictions and physically abusive situations can result in further intensifying the problems faced by families.
Through our micro-credit program, we are able to help the families of Anjali House by providing immediate assistance when it is most needed. They are then able to repay their loans with no interest when they are in a position to do so. Typically these loans are for about $10 or $20 to take a family member to hospital or some other emergency expense.
Anjali sends a monthly report card to the families about their children's grades, attendance and behaviour. Our social worker and deputy director also hold monthly family meetings where these issues can be discussed with the parents too, and the parents can talk about any concerns they might have about their children.