Sangkheum Center in Cambodia
Since 2001, with the contribution of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with the local NGO Kado, Progetto Continenti has created the Sangkheum Center which in Khmer means "The Center of Hope", not far from the city of Siem Reap.
Since its inception, the Sangkheum Center has provided educational, training and recreational opportunities to more than 800 children, coming from disadvantaged families in the surrounding areas and who attended the Sangkheum during the day.
For about 300 children between the ages of 4 and 17, the Center was a real home.
The Sangkheum Center was designed and structured with small Khmer-style houses to accommodate groups of 8 children with a mother / teacher. In this way we wanted to rebuild a kind of family unit, for those who have lost it or never had it. Thus the children had the opportunity to live affections and relationships based on acceptance, respect, continuity and safety. Each of them has experienced and faced a different trauma: some no longer have family members, others have only one parent who is unable to care for them (both for economic reasons and sometimes for personal and relationship reasons). For others, however, there is the possibility of returning to their family of origin (both parental and extended) but only following an in-depth and progressive work to verify the different family conditions (economic, social, personal, logistic, security etc .) and to reconnect the ties.
From 2014 we have thus initiated reconnection processes (gradual recovery of family ties) and reunification (return home proper) with families of children and young people up to 16 years of age, if the conditions have been verified, starting with availability in this sense of the children themselves. All the situations of reunification implemented so far have been positively evaluated and have not presented any problematic or critical elements.
Children and young people reintegrated into their families of origin are regularly monitored and supported, also through some economic supplements for their maintenance in the family (school, food and health expenses).
In Cambodia Progetto Continenti is considered a pioneer in the field of family reintegration, thanks to the methodologies put in place and to the attention towards psycho-pedagogical aspects, becoming a point of reference and excellence at national and international level.
With the aim of making teenagers more self-aware and more prepared to face life in today's society, we have offered residents and non-residents training in English, in computer science and in 6 macro areas peculiar to their age: Health, Family and Relationships, Personal Reflection, Daily Life, Work and Community / Solidarity.
The program, carried out with the support of various external organizations including the YES Center (Informa-giovani), has proved to be very useful in addressing their weaknesses and fragility.
Once they have left the Center, children of the age of 18 are still temporarily accompanied and followed by dedicated educators. Vocational training and individual orientation programs are planned for inclusion in the local community and in the working world, including through the provision of scholarships.
Progetto Continenti to date has supported and accompanied all the minors who have been hosted by the Center, providing both material goods (food, clothes, books) and intangible assets (education, training, affection, support in developing self-awareness and self-worth) .
In recent years, international directives, led by UNICEF and other large agencies and organizations, have pushed towards the de-institutionalization of minors from reception centers in order to reintegrate them into families or the local community. In line with Cambodian international and national regulations, Progetto Continenti has completed its work of reintegrating children / teenagers until the structure has become completely empty.
From 2019 the Sangkheum Center will become a vocational training center. The project entitled "Promoting a better future for young Cambodians from poor families: strengthening their skills for inclusion in the labor market" is currently under investigation.