Anjali house, an NCAS-I partner, is a French and Cambodian-founded non-profit organization providing free food, healthcare and education to under-privileged street kids and their families in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Anjali House works to give childhood back to Cambodian children. Children have the right to good health, food, clean water and an education; basic items that many children in Cambodia do not have access to. Anjali House explains some of the specific ways they supports this mission:
Every day we ensure the children receive two nutritious meals, consisting of vegetables, meat and rice. We also provide filtered water for the children to drink. We are continually looking for new donors to support this program. To encourage families to allow children to attend, and to help replace income lost because the children are no longer working, we provide 3 kg of rice to each of the families we work with. This basic economic incentive is crucial due to levels of poverty within families and ensures their basic food needs are met.
Children enjoying a meal at Anjali House:
Anjali House supports the health of Cambodian children by supporting their hygiene:
Due to the lack of clean water and the constraints of poverty, prior to the establishment of Anjali House many of our children had never used soap or brushed their teeth. Now every day the children bathe in clean running water with soap and shampoo, brush their teeth and clean their clothes. We supplement these resources with on-going education as to the importance of personal hygiene in preventing health problems.
With emergency grants and loans for parents who have no savings or collateral we have supported everything from cancer treatment and funeral expenses to care for broken limbs and motor injuries. Not providing these services would seriously impact not only on their health but also their ability to attend school and succeed as students.
Anjali House first registered the children at local public schools, provided them with school uniforms and all the necessary books, stationery and equipment for their studies. School attendance and performance is monitored through our social workers. School support is vital to ensure Anjali children have the opportunity to attend school regularly without any pressure to earn.
Anjali House offers its own English classes, which are led by Khmer staff, giving Cambodian children positive role models of their own culture, and making them able to get jobs in the future which require foreign language skills.
And the Arts:
Anjali’s arts workshops include theater, animation, dance, music and filmmaking. The arts offered at Anjali House support the belief shared by Anjali and NCAS-I in the power of artistic expression as a tool for building self-pride and an increased awareness of inherent capabilities.
Check out the Anjali house store, where you can directly help children by purchasing education materials, meals, and other items much needed by the children.
Anjali House employees are a valued part of the organization. Meet Pheak Ean, a Cambodian woman who is an important part of Anjali House. She works for the organization, and her five children are a part of Anjali programs. Pheak Ean says,
“I am 29. I am working at Anjali as a laundress. I like my job very much because it’s a regular job. I was a vegetable seller at the market. It was really hard, I had to grow vegetables with little kids in my arms. I could only make very small profit just enough to eat day by day. Now my life is so different.”
James Huffman, a third year in the Naropa University Art Therapy program, traveled to Cambodia with NCAS-I last May. Here is a small piece of his account of the experience:
What kind of work did the NCAS-I do with Anjali House when they visited Cambodia?
At Anjali House, NCAS-I worked with the morning and afternoon sessions of children to create toys for a sand tray, which we brought and donated. We had several different rooms, which the children rotated through, each room creating different things for the sand tray such as houses, people, animals, food, fences, and vehicles. We then ended each session using the sand tray to tell a story with the things that were created with the kids.
Anjali children with their new sand tray:
How did NCAS-I contribute to the Anjali house mission of helping Cambodian children to have a childhood?
Hopefully the sand tray will enrich their school experience by adding another outlet for creativity and storytelling. Also, in my experience, Cambodian children do not have access to many different art materials. A day spent making art, which can continue to foster creativity, is a valuable contribution to any childhood. There were also many smiles throughout the day. Childhood should have many happy days and new experiences.
How do you feel Anjali house helps to empower Cambodian children?
Anjali House helps empower Cambodian children in many more ways than I am aware of given the brevity of our stay, but these are some of the ways that stood out to me.
Anjali House provides rice to the families of the children enrolled with them. This in part provides motivation for the families to keep their kids in school, instead of working on the streets where they could be helping support the family. I believe it also communicates to the parents and children that their education is valuable.
Anjali House also provides free healthcare to the children. I believe this communicates to the children that they are important, and it is important that they feel good. I imagine many Cambodians living in poverty have to make hard financial choices between their children’s health problems and the greater financial needs of their families. By providing free healthcare, Anjali House tells the children that their health does not need to come second.
The quality of education provided would also be very empowering to the children. Many of the more prosperous businesses in Cambodia are supported by tourism, and require their employees to speak English. Anjali House provides children with the education needed to attain these higher paying jobs.
Take a look at Danielle Rifkin’s NCAS-I blog post on her experiences with Anjali House.
James and Danielle pictured here:
Blog courtesy of Whitney Haney.