Pauline, a former volunteer still committed to the children of Cambodia :

Pauline, a former volunteer still committed to the children of Cambodia

Pauline, former PES volunteer surrounded by children

After two years of volunteering at PSE, Pauline is still committed to the children she has been in charge of in Cambodia!

A moving encounter

"I came to know Pour un Sourire d'Enfant thanks to the film "Les Pépites" which I went to see in 2016. I was a teacher at the time and I went with my colleagues. When I saw the images of the dump, I felt like I could smell it and be there... I was so moved that when I came out I told my colleagues that I wanted to go there. I couldn't go right away because I had a class to look after, but a year and a half later, I arrived at the PSE centre in Phnom Penh", says Pauline.

A mission in contact with young people

In 2018, Pauline arrived at Pour un Sourire d'Enfant and took charge of the scouting programme, whose mission is to transmit the values of scouting to Cambodians and to train young people to supervise activities, while respecting Khmer culture. The young woman also organises activities for the residents and children in foster care: painting, construction, games, etc. "I really enjoyed this mission directly. I really enjoyed this mission directly in contact with the children, and I was even able to learn Khmer."

"The young people I supervised often had difficult behaviour, especially those with particularly complicated personal histories," Pauline recalls. "They were unruly and not used to living in a community, but through the scouting and manual activities, they revealed themselves."

Pauline, former volunteer, with the PSE Scouts group

Memorable encounters

"Kimrong was 13 when I arrived. She was a rebellious teenager who did the opposite of what she was told and was very difficult at school. It took almost a year to tame her," explains Pauline. "I saw her again in April 2022, she was now 17 years old and very proud, she told me that she was the leader of the little scout group. She told me that she realised how difficult it can be to look after the younger ones and even apologised for her behaviour at the time. Now she wants to give her time to look after the little ones. It was very touching," Pauline recalls.

In addition to the great poverty from which they come, some of the children taken care of by PSE are confronted with violence and abuse. "Pour un Sourire d'Enfant gives them a framework, teaches them to interact socially with others and to be exemplary," explains the young woman. "I saw them again 4 years later: they are friendly, kind teenagers who are making a lot of progress in English! I am very proud to see that some of them have become scout leaders today!"

A long-term commitment

Since the end of her voluntary service, Pauline has carried out several actions in favour of PSE.

"With the PSE PACA branch, I have given talks to students. During the Covid period, Marie-France, the founder of the association, could not do her annual tour and with former volunteers we did a summer tour. It was a good way to spread the word about PSE and we were able to reach people who had never heard of it before."

Since then, Pauline has returned to PSE several times, on personal trips to Cambodia. "In 2022, I went to Cambodia with a former volunteer and we thought it was a shame to arrive with empty suitcases, so we asked PSE what they might need and we made a fundraising campaign. We raised 440€ with which we bought muscle strengthening equipment for children with disabilities, early learning equipment for babies at the PMI and games for extra-curricular activities" she explains.

A child tries out a trumpet with the brass band that came to do some music education

A few months ago, Pauline once again set down her luggage in PSE for a few weeks to accompany a student brass band that came to teach music to the children. 

"I had already accompanied this kind of project during my volunteer work and it was an incredible moment with the children who were not at all familiar with this kind of music", she recalls. "This year, we organised workshops every morning in the 6 PSE huts and every evening at the PSE school. The band will organise a concert at the end of their stay and the children will be able to show what they have learned."

"It's great to be back! I see my old pupils who have grown up... They remember our activities well and even ask me to do them again. It means a lot to me that they remember," concludes Pauline, still very moved.