“Working with vulnerable children, youth, their families and their community”
That is the new strapline that the Board of M’Lop Tapang approved today. It was a great honour for me when I was asked to be a member of the Board of Directors of this social development organisation as the work that they do in terms of education, social care, healthcare and child protection is amazing.
The Board meeting was an opportunity for us to review progress over the last six months and to plan out the coming year for the organisation.
I’m going to use this article to highlight some of the work that M’Lop Tapang has been doing recently.
The organisation was originally set up to work with street-living and street-working children in Southern Cambodia many of whom lived on streets and beaches around Sihanoukville, at risk of adverse health and abuse of all types.
Over the past 12 years the organisation has transformed the lives of children, young people and families in the Sihanoukville area to give them all a better start in life, better education, better health, better employment options and better protection from harm.
Summary of activities
M’Lop Tapang works with over 4500 vulnerable children & young people and over 1500 families in Cambodia.
Between January & October 2015 the M’Lop Tapang outreach programme supported 2729 children and young people and 1530 families.
Between January & October 2015 M’Lop Tapang reached 2230 children and young people through educational programmes. 440 children & young people now participate in arts activities and over 300 engage in organised sports activities.
Between January & October 2015 M’Lop Tapang’s fantastic medical team delivered care to 4258 children and 549 adults. The outreach team have provided 1464 treatments during their visits to rural and urban communities.
Between January & October 2015 M’Lop Tapang has had 39 boys and 27 girls using their night shelters. These are children who would otherwise have slept on a street or beach or who would have been subject to all forms of abuse overnight.
M’Lop Tapang has trained and certified 997 ChildSafe members. I really want a ChildSafeUK pilot to happen!
100% of the students in the vocational training programmes secure employment – this is a fantastic achievement!
M’Lop Tapang works with around 200 children and young people who are in prisons in Southern Cambodia. The health problems for them are significant and there has to be a better way of rehabilitating these young people, some of whom even officials acknowledge are innocent of the crimes they are accused of, other than incarceration.
There are 195 Khmer staff colleagues and 3 foreign/international colleagues working at M’Lop Tapang:
The achievements of all of these individuals, and collectively as a team, are stunning.
It was during the Board meeting that news of the awful attacks in Paris started to come through. News of attacks in a Cambodian restaurant in Paris and of the atrocities that had taken place overnight were the source of reflection and concern from Board members.
I don’t intend to turn this into a political blog but I will say this:
The devastating attacks and terrible loss of life in Paris, and also in other parts of the world, have no place in our global society. It is education, mutual respect and acceptance of our multi-faceted society that have the greatest chance of changing our communities so that people can live together in peace and understanding. I am saddened by the terrible loss of life in Paris and elsewhere. That is not how human beings, wherever they exist and whatever their beliefs, should behave and such violence can only be destructive to society, including the society that those people who carry out such attrocities are seeking to achieve. My thoughts are with all of those caught up in recent attacks, their families and their friends.
Following the Board meeting the members of the Board and Senior Staff of M’Lop Tapang had lunch at the Holy Cow restaurant after which some members of the Board went back up to Phnom Penh (5.5 to 6.5 hours away by bus) and I joined the Founding member of M’Lop Tapang, Maggie Eno MBE, and one of the other Board members, to watch the sun set over Otres Beach.
To some people this beach is an idyllic place to sit and watch the sun go down. To others it is their home.
The work of M’Lop Tapang is making real improvements to the lives of children, young people and their families who live in poverty, live on the streets or live on the beaches in this part of Cambodia. I can’t wait to get back here again to see the progress that I know will have occurred and to follow up the amazingly resilient children who I have seen in clinic, and on outreach visits, this week.