"Is it not surprising, even after 20 years, that you have been working in Cambodia, that there are still families living in catastrophic situations?... Unfortunately, this is the case! There are several reasons for that...
It should be known that, over the past 20 years the country has developed very rapidly. This development, of course, like everywhere, increases the cost of living: rent, rice, food, land... everything has become considerably more expensive. However, the price of trash that our scavenger families sell, has stayed almost the same, so relatively, it has decreased considerably. Our families that pick-up water greens to sell, that wash other families' clothes, that sell periwinkles on the side of the road, all those poorest families, the families of our children, have not seen their earnings increase proportionally. None of these small jobs has a future, but they are those of our families, who are unskilled, without any training, but who try, courageously, to survive through those makeshift means.
When the situation becomes catastrophic, they borrow money to pay the rent or even just to eat. But interest rates are very high, sometimes reaching 20% a month!... A vicious cycle they cannot escape from.
Many, also, owned a small piece of land in the countryside, that allowed them to subsist. However, after two or three dry spells or floods, as so often happens in the regions of Prey Veng or Svay Riend, or because a grandmother or a father becomes sick, they start to mortgage their small rice paddy, and filnally become forced to sell it... and migrate to the cities, with the hope of finding a better life. And then, it's the trap.
The country's growth, 7% a year, is excellent, and we can just rejoice. But it has side effects, probably inevitable, that exclude those who are outside the system.
For example, this development means that the construction sector is exploding. The logical consequence is the exponential rise in the prices of lands: the same small piece of land of 4 x 5 m, to build your small hut, that, 10 years ago, could be rented for $2.50, costs today $10... And if you were a landowner, in any case, you are pressured to sell because of the development of the district. So, you find yourselves forced to move away from the city centre.
And I'm not even talking about the easy money, that attracts the youth into drugs and prostitution...
So yes, there are still considerable needs. Our work educating and providing vocational training to the children, and training the parents too, remains vital. It is the only chance, for them, of getting through, integrating, via a worthwile job, into the country's development circuit.
It is urgent to continue helping these children and families, otherwise, it is one more generation that is at risk of being sacrificed. We absolutely cannot give up, because it works! We can save them, but we need everyone to join in.
Ant that is why we tell our infinite thanks to all those who, following a crush, have decided to donate for these children. It is already so valuable. But supporting us in the long term by repeating donations from time to time is extremely important too, as that allows us to continue our work.
There is also sponsoring of a child, which ensures the security of children's caring until they have graduated with a qualified skill.
So, we count on you ?"
Marie-France des Pallières, founder of PSE