The fundamental role of community centres in the fight against child malnutrition :

The fundamental role of community centres in the fight against child malnutrition

Children standing in a classroom at one of PSE's community centres

Located in the shanty towns where the families helped by PSE live, community centres play an essential role in helping children to grow up properly.

Out of poverty thanks to PSE

"I'm proud to share my family's story today, because we've come a long way since seven years ago, when we first received support from PSE," says Savoeun with a smile. 

A single mother of three daughters, PSE's help has been a lifesaver, enabling the girls to eat their fill and go to school with peace of mind. 

"I decided to divorce the father of my daughters because I was always the only one supporting the family. He never wanted to work, while I tried to sell maize all day outside a factory. Sometimes I only earned a few dollars after spending hours in the sun, so I had to keep selling in my neighbourhood", explains Savoeun.

The separation took place just before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Street sales came to a halt, and many families, already in a very precarious situation, threatened to fall into even deeper poverty. "I really thought my family was going to lose everything, including our home," recalls Savoeun. "PSE helped us a lot by providing emergency food hampers and help with paying the rent."

Today, although Savoeun admits that it's not always easy being a single mother with three children and a low income, she sees a positive change in her situation. "When things returned to normal after the pandemic, I changed jobs. I now sell gherkins and fresh fruit in the street, which allows me to earn a bit more than before. PSE also gives us 20 kilos of rice a month," says Savoeun.

Savoeun, a PSE beneficiary, with her daughter Sreyne, welcomed into the programmes

Hope for a better future for her children

"The real change is for my daughters," she explains. "I can't imagine what our lives would be like without PSE... I try not to cry, but that's how I feel," she adds, very moved. "We were so poor that we could have ended up on the street. But now I know that my children have a future!"

Sreyne, a little girl cared for by PSE, sitting in her classroom at one of the community centres

The two eldest children study at a state school, while the youngest, Sreyne, is looked after in one of PSE's community centres, like Savoeun's second daughter before her. "What matters to me is that they can all go to school and get enough to eat," explains Savoeun. "I can see that their health has improved a lot over the years. I remember my second daughter was so small when she was taken into the PSE community centre. At first, she didn't even have the appetite to eat: that's how it is, when you don't have enough, you forget what it's like to eat well," she recalls. "That's why nursery schools are great places: young children get two meals a day, plus snacks! They have enough energy to get ready for primary school."

Sreyne, Savoeun's youngest child, loves this place where she has an outdoor space to play with her friends and enjoys healthy meals every day. "I'm so reassured to know that she'll have the level to study at a state school later on, because here they learn the basics," concludes the young woman.

Sopha, teacher, in her class surrounded by children

The role of community centres

Sopha is one of the teachers at the community centre where Sreyne is enrolled, looking after the youngest children. "I've been doing this job for 8 years and I wouldn't change it for the world! Since my first day, I've felt a strong bond with all the children in my care", says Sopha with a big smile.

"Sreyne is in my class and apparently I'm her favourite teacher," she explains happily. "I think the children love being here because the whole team pays so much attention to them and our job is basically to make sure they're happy! I always say that we look after them as if they were our own children."

The PSE community centres are located in the slums where the families live. This makes it easy for parents to drop their children off in a safe place before going to work. During the day, the teachers organise activities and games, read stories and so on. "What we do is very important because we are preparing them for school," explains Sopha.

Another essential aspect of the nursery schools is the fight against child malnutrition, through a strong system designed to ensure that everyone eats properly and to their fill, so that they grow up well. Sopha confirms: "the children's favourite moment is when we serve them breakfast or lunch". "At that age, they need good food to grow well," she concludes.