‘Harmed’….abuse….the girls and the boys…and the *Government.

The Girls If there were no other reasons for helping the villages, then this reason makes it not just worth it – it makes it unforgivable not to exhaust every ounce of effort to help.

Kamau aged 12 was completely uneducated and very vulnerable. She’s a great student now and can already read and write and understands that there are now choices when she eventually leaves school.

I am well used to talking to schools, groups and individuals about the issue of  ‘prospects for girls in Cambodia with no money and no education’. This is a website read by school girls and boys in western countries – I’ll tell you what happens to girls and boys with no education in Cambodia:-

Most villages in Cambodia are between 500 and 1000 people in one track villages… surrounded by an endless maze of rice fields.. there is only one main income – one rice crop per year, giving each family about US$1 per day averaged out through the year… families are often 4 or 5 children with a high death rate, there is no social welfare, no pension scheme, no unemployment benefit, disability or sickness benefit whatsoever.

With no school, no one of any age can read or write their own language (Khmer – it means Cambodian)  or add numbers, do simple maths, know about neighboring countries or even Khmer rights and wrongs and culture other than what is passed on by their now much deceased old people!

Teenagers after around 16 years of age often head for the big city to try to earn money to send home for the family.

Girls: if only they could read and write Khmer or add and subtract numbers there are jobs in hotels and shop reception or even starting their own street-side little market business.

But with no schooling this is what happens to EVERY girl I know of from our villages prior to our arrival and the beginnings of  ‘Educating Cambodia’ – the 16 or 17 year old girl gets a job say cleaning in a hotel or guesthouse.. she earns around US $30 – $40 a month for 12 hours a day seven days a week. If it’s a Khmer guesthouse with room costs of $5 to $10 a night, the Khmer male guest offers the girl around $5 for one hours sex, if it’s a western hotel charging upwards from $15 a night the male guest offers her between $10 to $20 for one hour…It is all just too tempting, she knows she can send the money home for her malnourished mum, brothers and sisters and so she is trapped. Protection is never used and there is a high chance that she now has AIDS but doesn’t know it so is soon spreads and eventually comes back to the villages. That’s nicest way of looking at.

If her mum is anything of a schemer she will sell her daughter if she has several, sometimes permanently never to see her again, or simply sell her virginity to pay the family bills for a couple of years. If the girl works in a brothel then its much, much worse, with violence, rape or slavery, or both.

The Lower Mekong is the geographic area of Cambodia and South Vietnam; this area is widely regarded as the world’s most squalid and sickening center for sourcing girls for the sex trade. Make no mistake, the sex slavery and industry in Cambodia is not a ‘profession’ or a job of choice, it is worse than horror movies. We are though, working successfully on the solution…Our schools are working! ‘SCHOOLS’  is widely regarded as the most effective weapon against this ‘trade’ .

Our first school opened three years ago.. of our 1000 children in three schools so far, 480 are girls….almost all of them can now read and write.. We teach mums and dads too.. I say, “send your daughters to school every day…don’t sell your daughters….they will get a good job…maybe one day they will be a doctor”

The boys and girls are actually in the same school buildings. so, at least we know where they are and can also teach them about other countries and what girls and boys do in other countries. Our children feel like pioneers!!! They know full well that things will not be just like they are in England or Australia or the USA or France, even in their lifetime…BUT they are so proud to be the pioneers .

You will see photos on this site of children being helped in their new classrooms by Cambodian young women;

On their way to their first ever day in school – all in clothes we bought for them


We brought these young women helpers home from the squalor of Phnom Penh sex bars…In fact I didn’t have to ask them to come…they came back to the villages, absolutely determined to be part of telling their younger sisters and nieces to study hard so they can HAVE CHOICES THAT THEY AND THOSE BEFORE NEVER HAD.

The Boys: about BOYS…and alternative jobs.

There are three major industries in Cambodia;  tourism, rice cultivation and the garment industry. Chinese people own most of the garment factories. The factories are centered around cities, principally, Phnom Penh.

There is quite a bit of prestige felt by families from the provinces when a member of their immediate family is sending a little bit of money home from a garment factory. (‘the provinces’ means rural Cambodia).

The factories are enormous and are packed tight with sewing machines….As of April 2011, 305,000 people work at sewing machines in Cambodian factories. The workers are mostly young men and women working 12 hour days….12 solid hours of sewing for, if you are good and work hard and well, US$2…..yes that’s two dollars…but that’s twice as much as working 12 hours in a back breaking rice field. (I know, I’ve tried a rice field and believe me you would not want to be doing it for more than thirty minutes!)

These garment factories are making many of the clothes that you and I wear…GAP, Nike, and Columbia are some of the biggest; they also make many European brands, including Pierre Cardin, Puma and Boss.

It is not frivolous exaggeration when these factories are called the ‘sweatshops’ of South East Asia or ‘industrial slavery’. British children are still taught about the early nineteenth century cotton mills of Lancashire, it’s alive and very unwell in twenty first century Cambodia!

Looking desperately for something good to say – there are weak trade unions who have managed to lift the wages to their present level and it is a job and survivable if in Phnom Penh you live with others in a tiny room rented to you by the company.

These are photos of the room of two garment workers and their small daughter. They sleep, wash, eat, cook and go to the toilet in this room divided as you see:

cooking washing area

cooking washing and toilet & shower area

sleeping and eating area

combined cooking washing toilet


Having a school and learning to read and write is looking like a good idea, isn’t it.

Cambodian Government

These are not the only or main paragraphs about the Cambodian Government, but I need you to know about how the Government sits with all this need for education and talk of sweatshops, malnutrition and very ugly prostitution.

There are several levels of government, just like in the west, and Cambodia is a Constitutional Monarchy , similar in style to the United Kingdom and Japan.

You will learn elsewhere in the site that one of our best and almost magic ingredients is that we work seamlessly with government departments from local village elders to the Provincial Governor of our Province, Prey Veng, and from all the local police to the monks who take care of weddings, funerals, parties, and family care.

The government is trying hard to educate its people about the children being ‘The National Treasure’ and ‘watch out for sex tourists’. The problem however starts at home and most customers of girls are in fact Cambodian men. The Government knows all this and is frankly snowed under with the size of the problem, so we and many other overseas agencies try to help, not against the government, with The Government, Prosecutions are a tiny part of the solution. Right across the board – everyone agrees – Education and Schools are the answer.

The garment industry is, and is seen to be one of the three main Cambodian Industries (Rice, Tourism and Garments).

The owners and employers in the Garment Industry are mostly Chinese and are only here because they can pay low wages so, although the government usually sides with the workers and their requests for more money there is seen to be a slow but improving fine line to tread.

A number of countries are helping Cambodia, principally with road and bridge infrastructure. (over time I’ll add news items and links about all these things because the more you know, the more you can help).

What we in ‘Educating Cambodia’ don’t do is try to teach English unless they ask for it and we don’t touch religion in any way. We have no agenda at all, other than to help them to recover and build as Cambodians in 2011. They have a fabulous ancient culture. We help them and they appreciate as if we are family.

The three schools we have built, medicines we have bought and things we do – we GIVE totally without strings to them. I well remember the faces of everyone here in Cambodia when I told them that the school, the books, the solar panels and everything in the school is totally theirs.

I very much welcome you the reader to be genuinely part of that feeling. Every person who donates any amount of money is recorded within the school. $500 or more and there’s a wall plaque forever and you are literally with us in the villages.. There are schools and classrooms to buy…but explore the site and help us please, by BEING US.