Our humanitarian association supporting children in Cambodia :

Our humanitarian association supporting children in Cambodia

For 25 years, Pour un Sourire d'Enfant (For a Child's Smile) has been working to help Cambodian children and their families escape destitution. Find out more about our history, our mission and how we work!

Pour un Sourire d'Enfant (For a Child's Smile) has been working for over 25 years to help children in Cambodia

Pour un Sourire d'Enfant (For a Child's Smile) is a humanitarian association that has been working in Cambodia for 25 years to help the poorest children escape destitution and equip them to find a decent job. 

The story of the NGO began in 1995 when Christian and Marie-France des Pallières discovered children working and eating on the municipal dumpsite in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Deeply shocked, they turned their indignation into action to meet the children's demand for "a meal a day and to go to school". Since then, through education and vocational training programmes and comprehensive care of the children's needs, they have saved 12,000 lives!

The founders of Pour un Sourire d'Enfant (For a Child's Smile)

Christian and Marie-France des Pallières, the founders of  Pour un Sourire d'Enfant, first travelled the world in their camper van with their four children before getting to Cambodia.   In early retirement, Christian accepted a humanitarian mission with an association whose goal was to rebuild the education system, after it had been destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. Joined by Marie-France a few months later, they discovered together the unimaginable: children living and working on the dumpsite. 

Christian died in 2016, but Marie-France continues their mission and still lives in the PSE centre in Phnom Penh among the children!

Christian et Marie-France entourés d'enfants au Centre PSE

Pour un Sourire d'Enfant (For a Child's Smile), a key player in international solidarity

Our humanitarian association today

The children cared for by Pour un Sourire d'Enfant (PSE) are children forced to work, scavengers, collectors of water bindweed, stone breakers, children who have dropped out of school, who have been mistreated, who are orphans... who live in great precariousness in areas of great poverty on the outskirts of large cities.

PSE works in Cambodia, mainly in the capital, Phnom Penh, and its surrounding districts, as well as in Siem Reap (Angkor) and Sihanoukville, to help children escape extreme poverty and lead them to a qualified, dignified and decently paid job.

More than 6,500 children are taken care of each year in our programmes, all from extremely poor families directly identified by our social team.

The missions of the association

PSE's mission is to help the poorest children of Cambodia escape destitution and lead them to a decent job thanks to 6 programmes:

  • Education & schooling
  • Vocational Training
  • Food
  • Health
  • Protection
  • Help for families

Children are cared for from infancy until they find a job. To this end, the vocational training courses we offer the youngsters in our programmes ensure there is focus on practical exercises and are built with leading partner organisations in each domain to offer them the best possible education. After all throughout their careers it is the skills they gain that count. 

We cover all of the children's needs, from nutrition and protection to education, health and family support. We teach them a skilled trade, so they can fully integrate, with dignity, into Cambodian society. 

A unique model: "A problem? A solution!"

From the beginning, the humanitarian association Pour un Sourire d'Enfant (For a Child's Smile) met the needs of children. To begin with, it was "one meal a day and to go to school, like the other children". 

As time went on, Christian and Marie-France des Pallières, the founders, together with the teams in Cambodia, adapted to find solutions to each problem they encountered.

  • Parents did not want to let their children go to school because they were so poor that they could not afford to lose the children's meagre wages? PSE set up a rice compensation system to make up the shortfall. 
  • Older sisters did not go to school because they had to look after their younger brothers and sisters? PSE built day care centres to take care of the younger children and allow the older ones to continue their studies.

Pour un Sourire d'Enfant adapts every day to ensure that the children's needs are met and that nothing hinders their development. 

An exemplary NGO

Pour un Sourire d'Enfant (For a Child's Smile) is recognised both in France as a charitable organisation and has been awarded the French Republic's Human Rights Prize, and in Cambodia by the country's authorities. 

There are 300 volunteers in France and throughout the world who work to keep the association alive, alongside the Board of Directors, which is made up of volunteers, and there are only 6 salaried employees at the head office in Versailles. This allows PSE keep costs to a minimum, overheads make up only 10% expenditure. 

Each year, PSE publishes its acounts and an activity reports and communicates transparently about the use of funds, mainly raised through donations and sponsorships. 


  • What is a humanitarian association? 

It is when several people come together around a common project. Everyone is free to create an association; it is even written into the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. An association functions with the help of volunteers who give their time for free and can act in all fields: culture, sport, art, the environment, the defence of children's rights...

Pour un Sourire d'Enfant (For a Child's Smile) relies on 300 volunteers in France and around the world and aims to help the children of Cambodia to offer them a better future. 

  • Who founded PSE For a Child's Smile? 

Christian and Marie-France des Pallières, a French couple, founded Pour un Sourire d'Enfant in 1995. Their story is told in the documentary film "Les Pépites" (Little Gems) by Xavier de Lauzanne (2016), which had 200,000 admissions in cinemas when it was released and it was voted Best Documentary of the Decade (2010-2019) by Allociné. Marie-France des Pallières has also published the book "Pour un Sourire d'Enfant" (2021), which retraces the incredible adventure of the association through the couple's memories and the pages of the diary they have kept since 1996. 

  • What does Pour un Sourire d'Enfant (For a Child's Smile) do?

Pour un Sourire d'Enfant works in Cambodia to help the poorest children and their families, with the aim of getting them out of extreme poverty by providing them with schooling, vocational training and providing overall support for their development. The association has already saved 12,000 children, but many are still waiting for our help.