This publication is dedicated to the people of Cambodia.
Cover Image: A mother applys pressure to her newly vaccinated childâ€™s arm, outside the UNICEF supported Kouk Roka Health Centre in Angdong, Phnom Penh.
Special thanks to: Rana Flowers, Angelique Reid, John Rodsted, Earle Bridger, Heather Faulkner, all the UNICEF Cambodia staff members, the Pozible campaign members, our families and everyone else who helped us along the way. We couldn’t have done it without you!
At Crossroads: UNICEF’s Work in the Kingdom of Wonder is a publication from three independent photographers. The views and opinions expressed within this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations Children’s Fund, or its affiliate organisations. The work is subject to copyright. Copyright of all the images is owned by the artists, unless otherwise stated. Copyright of the text is owned jointly by the At Crossroads publication contributors and UNICEF. Copyright of all other material is the intellectual property of the publication’s creators. All rights are reserved. For any kind of reproduction or use, in whole or part, permission from all of the appropriate copyright holders must first be obtained. www.atcrossroads.org
P R E FA C E In January 2014 three photographers from Brisbane, Australia collaborated with the United Nations Childrenâ€™s Fund in Cambodia, touring projects across the country, and meeting the individuals supported by the organisation. While on the ground, the trio worked closely with UNICEF staff to document the role the organization plays in both urban and rural communities. By speaking to individuals who participate in UNICEF-funded programs, and witnessing first-hand the positive impact the progams have on the daily lives of women and children of Cambodia, the photographers have created an overview of the projects and programs supported by international organisation.
HISTORY OF UNICEF CAMBODIA
UNICEF CAMBODIA TODAY
WASH: WATER SANITATION & HYGIENE
URBAN POOR & MATERNAL HEALTH
GROWING UP WITHOUT A CHILDHOOD
PHARE PONLEU SELPAK
SIEM REAP DUMPSITE - ANGLONG PI
ANGLONG PI & VOCATIONAL TRAINING
Morning sunlight shines through ruins at Beng Melea Temple located 54km outside Siem Reap.
HISTORY OF UNICEF CAMBODIA UNICEF began working in Cambodia in 1952 and opened its first country office in 1973, at the height of the civil war. At the time, UNICEFâ€™s mandate was to provide humanitarian relief to children fleeing the civil war. However, UNICEF was one of many international agencies expelled from the country when the Khmer Rouge regime came to power in 1975. An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died in the years following, as war and genocide gripped the nation. UNICEF was one of the first organisations to return at the end of the war to provide emergency aid. Widespread famine during the regime left the majority of the population starved, while extremist policies resulted in the complete destruction of schools, hospitals and other basic services. UNICEF prioritised upgrading health facilities with a focus on access to clean water, providing crucial immunisations and distributing school supplies so children could continue their education. In the mid-1980s, UNICEF evolved into a development organization, shifting its focus from emergency relief to nation building. The organisation launched a rural water supply program and expanded its immunisation program, focusing on remote areas. They also focused on building strong relationships with the government of Cambodia as they transitioned towards stability. 8
More than thirty years after war and genocide devastated the small South East Asian nation, Cambodia sits at a critical â€˜crossroadsâ€™ of change and opportunity. Poverty has declined from nearly 50 per cent in the early 2000s, and political and social stability have resulted in relative calm. While the lives of many have improved, inequalities have heightened. Roughly one in every two Cambodians does not have access to safe drinking water, while only one in every four have access to a toilet. There are alarming social disparities between children who live in rural and urban areas in terms of access to basic health services, education, clean water and sanitation. Persistent rural poverty remains a national dilemma. UNICEF Cambodia is based in the capital city Phnom Penh, and has four regional offices located in Battambang, Kampong Cham, Preah Sihanouk and Siem Reap. 165 UNICEF staff members support a range of programs to improve the well being of Cambodians across the country. Current challenges affecting women and children include alleviating poverty, education for all and strengthening child rights and protection. UNICEF works closely with the Royal Government of Cambodia, as well as other state and non-state actors, to address these challenges with the goal of ensuring a just society for all children.
UNICEF CAMBODIA TODAY UNICEF’s work is guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and core human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. UNICEF Cambodia’s current country programme has evolved from a service delivery approach to a rights and results based approach, that aims to achieve long term systemic change by mainstreaming actions into national programmes and policies. The aim is to enhance the capacity of the government to deliver basic services for children and women. The current five-year country programme (20112015) has been developed to advance the fulfilment of children’s rights in Cambodia by making equitable progress towards the country’s achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. These goals are in alignment with the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, as well as the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Rectangular Strategy Phase II and the revised National Strategic Development Plan to achieve measurable results. It is also aligned with many of Cambodia’s principal development partners to ensure that they work in a coordinated way for children and women.
The country programme seeks to strengthen service delivery primarily through influencing policy and partnerships focused on the achievement of agreed results, demonstrating how systems work for children, facilitating participation and empowerment, and nurturing national ownership and mutual accountability. UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions. While the majority of their resources come from governments, they also receive substantial support from the private sector and individual donations. UNICEF Cambodia’s Supply Section supports the national availability and local delivery of essential supplies for child survival and development. The supply team also supports UNICEF’s ongoing programmes and activities by procuring and delivering critical commodities (such a vaccines, essential medicines, therapeutic food, water and sanitation equipment, school supplies) on behalf of the government and partners. It also procures and pre-positions relief supplies for rapid response to emergencies.
WASH: Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Lack of water and proper sanitation is one of the biggest issues affecting the health of children across Cambodia. The simple practice of washing hands with soap is unavailable to many, which leads to a high occurrence of diarrhoea, skin disease, respiratory and intestinal infections, and other waterborne diseases. These conditions often result in long-term illnesses or death, despite being largely preventable. One of the core programs of UNICEF Cambodia is the implementation of their Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programs in schools around the country. Cambodia has over 15,000 schools and over 3 million enrolled students â€“ however, 31% of these schools do not have a toilet; at those schools that do, the facilities are often not functioning or in poor condition. UNICEF, in conjunction with the Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association (BORDA) fund and build functioning toilet buildings in primary schools enabling students to have access to proper sanitation facilities. These brand new toilet blocks are accompanied by an Students use facilities provided as part of UNICEFâ€™s WASH Program to clean their hands before eating and after using the bathroom.
education program for staff and students to encourage basic sanitation measures like hand washing and using clean water for drinking and cooking. 13
TL: Brand new toilet blocks are brightly coloured to encourage children to use the facilities. TR: Soap and other consumables are bought with a combination of UNICEF funding and small donations from studentsâ€™ families. BL: White sandals are provided so students who do not come to school with shoes are protected when they use toilet facilities. BR: Toilet blocks are enclosed to protect facilities from vandalism, theft and damage from the elements.
â€œWe will always be clean and wash our hands before eating.â€? - segment from the handwashing song.
Student at a participating UNICEF WASH facility school in Siem Reap, Cambodia, pears through the fence at fellow students.
URBAN POOR & MATERNAL HEALTH During the past two decades Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s
One of the key factors leading to poor health and nutrition
capital city, has experienced a major increase in
of Cambodian mothers and children is inadequate
accessibility and quality of health services. UNICEF focus on
administration urban poor communities account for roughly
building health care services within communities across the
25 per cent of the cities 2.2 million inhabitants. Since 1980
country, to give mothers and their children access to basic
the Phnom Penh municipality identified 516 urban poor
health services like immunisations and vitamins. They also
communities – today 342 communities are classified as
employ trained health professionals to educate communities
“organised” with an acknowledged structure.
about basic health care needs.
Angdong Urban Poor community, formed in 2006, is
One such project is Kouk Roka Health Centre in Andong
located approximately 20 kilometres west of Phnom Penh .
village. The settlement itself is a sprawling maze of shanty
The community is clustered into three sub-sections: Angdong
houses built in the dusty outskirts of the city. It is home to
1, 2, and 3. Angdong 3 is currently considered the most
the poorest of Cambodia’s poor, a place rife with domestic
overcrowded, with approximately 1,545 families making
abuse, poverty-stricken children and hard-working parents
up a population of roughly 3,200.
trying to support their families.
The community continues to face many health challenges. This includes common and easily treatable diseases and chronic malnutrition. The sanitation situation is equally as dire with no functioning toilets, vast amounts of garbage scattered everywhere and open sewage. The stench alone is enough to deter most people. During the rainy season, with no proper drainage, circumstances worsen as pools of contaminated water form, creating further bacterial and mosquito breeding grounds.
A young woman peers from her home in Andong. The shelter is built over open sewage drains. 17
The poor living conditions at Angdong 3 urban poor community leads to multiple health related issues affecting local residents.
Ly Srey Pick (right) is due to give birth any day. She recieves home visits from a nurse from Kouk Roka Health Centre, a UNICEF-supported initiative in Andong urban poor community. Without this program, Ly would go without basic health services like iron tablets, vaccinations and prenatal and postnatal care.
A young woman brings her child for a vaccination at Kouk Roka Health Centre. Domestic violence is a common problem in Cambodiaâ€™s poverty-stricken communities. 20
A nurse gives a young child a tetanus and hepatitis vaccination at Kouk Roka Health Centre in Andong urban poor community. Without the UNICEF-supported initiative, families in this community would be without basic health care including vaccinations and vitamins. 23
New mother Sok Saor nurses her daughter, Ly. Sok received support from UNICEF through her local Commune Council when she was pregnant with Ly.
GROWING UP WITHOUT A CHILDHOOD Words By: Peter Farmer Out of all the stories we witnessed with UNICEF Cambodia, there was one that hit me the hardest: the story of twelve year old Leang Hour who has become the motherly figure to her younger brother after their mother passed away a year ago and their father ran away. We met them during a day photographing activities supported by the Commune Committee for Women and Children (CCWC), a committee of the government’s Commune Council that provides support to vulnerable pregnant women and children. The two children live in a small village called Chamka Lhong. The road to the village is no longer paved - potholes and wash boarding rocked our four-wheel drive. Eventually we got out the vehicle and walked, crossing a stream to a small village on top of a hill. On the outskirts sat a small shelter. We stood out front waiting for the children we were there to meet. A small crowd started to grow around us. In fact, it felt like the
While we were chatting, a motorbike pulled up beside us. An elderly woman stepped off the back and sat down beside the children. It was their 62 year old grandmother, Chan Thon, who takes care of Leang and their three siblings after the loss of their parents. Every day Chan makes her way to the markets to sell fruit and vegetables. On a typical day she earns roughly USD $1.25 - not enough to feed six people. I could see the desperation in her eyes. My heart sank a little more. We asked Khu Phorn what the CCWC is doing for this family. She told us it was only recently that this family was brought to the attention of the Commune, and support had not quite started coming in from the council. With UNICEF’s additional support though, funds would soon provide them with canned food appropriate for long-term storage, and with small financial aid to help with any medical treatment and transport. The local village would also provide food and money to the family when
whole village was out to see what was happening and who we were.
available during the most difficult times.
Eventually, we met Khu Phorn from the local Commune Committee for
I was happy that at least this family was given a fighting chance, but to
Women and Children who introduced us to Leang Hour and her little brother. He was sick and at times struggled to breathe. We sat down on a small wooden platform and began talking to the brother and sister, trying to get to know them. I asked what Leang did for fun. She replied: “I don’t have time for fun. I cook. I clean. I look after my brother.” Leang doesn’t receive formal education. Out of all her brothers and sisters, only one goes to school. Leang needs to stay at home to look after her youngest brother; he held onto her the entire time we were there. 26
see children having to grow up so fast, to take on the role of providing and running the household while coping with the loss of their mother and father, made this story difficult for me to write about. I can only hope that as awareness is raised, generating further support, more and more children and families can have access to the basic necessities they so desperately need to survive.
Leang Hour, 12, holds her ill younger brother outside their home in rural Cambodia. Leang, just a child herself, has become the motherly figure after their mother passed away and the father ran away. 27
Chan Thon, 62, Leangâ€™s grandmother works at the local market everyday selling fruit and vegetables, earning less than USD $1.25 per day - not enough to feed herself and the 5 young children. 28
EDUCATION UNICEF works to ensure all children – regardless of gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic background or personal circumstances – realise their right to a quality education. To that end, UNICEF supports innovative programmes and initiatives that focus on the world’s most excluded and vulnerable children, including girls, the disabled, ethnic minorities, the rural and urban poor, victims of conflict, natural disasters and children affected by HIV and AIDS.
DISABILITY SUPPORT One key area of UNICEFâ€™s work is supporting children with disabilities in the school system. Children with disabilities are more likely to drop out of school than any other demographic. UNICEF focusses on removing roadblocks that stop children with disabilities participating fully in the classroom. In doing so, they partner with local not-for-profits to extend the aid network within Cambodia. One such organisation that UNICEF partners with is Operations Engants du Cambodge (OEC), a Battambang-based not-for-profit that supports children with disabilities by improving their quality of life. Bong Keam (opposite page) is in Grade 3 at Tapaing Por Primary School. His hands have been malformed since birth, making it hard to learn to write. He receives special learning materials from UNICEF and OEC, and is now able to attend and participate in classes with his peers. Bong is one of 13 students at Tapaing Por Primary School (page 38-39) who receive disability support from OEC, making it a leading school in breaking the cycle of discrimination that children with disabilities often face in the educational system. Both, (p.38-39) is another recipient of support from OEC. His foot has been malformed since birth, however he is soon due for an operation to remove the malformation and fit a prosthetic limb. OEC provides transport to and from the hospital, as well as giving Both books, a bag and other school materials to assist his family with the financial cost of attending school. Both was also lucky enough to receive a bike to help him get around, which he adores and is very proud to show off. 36
Bong Keam, 11, attends Tapaing Por Primary School. His hands have been deformed since birth, making it more difficult for him to read, write and learn as easily as his other classmates. He recieves special learning materials with UNICEF and Operations Engants du Cambodgeâ€™s support to help.
PHARE PONLEU SELPAK Phare Ponleu Selpak is a non-profit association working with vulnerable children, young adults and their families. Based in Battambang, it offers young people a way out of the poverty cycle by training them to become professional artists and performers. Phare Ponleu Selpak – a direct translation of “the brightness of art” in Khmer, was established in 1994 by young Cambodian refugees who returned to Cambodia and began using the arts as a means of coping with trauma, and rebuilding the lives of those affected by Cambodia’s violent past. Phare is set in an idyllic space in a tiny street in Battambang. The school has open spaces of lush green grass, flowering trees and open classrooms that are full to the brim with healthy, smiling children. It is primarily an arts school, providing training in circus skills, theatrical performances, music and visual arts. However, it also offers formal education and remedial teaching to over 1,400 children from primary school to high school. A key part of the school’s offerings is its social work program. Staff work to prevent children and youth from engaging in risky behavior by offering psycho-social support. The school seeks to reintegrate vulnerable children and youth into their families, the public school system, the workplace and their culture. Phare is part of UNICEF’s partnership program for protecting children. UNICEF provides the school with technical assistance, and assist with advocacy, knowledge generation, research and data management. Once children have received training from Phare, they are equipped with the professional, social, and emotional skills that allow them to enter the workforce as working artists and productive members of society. 42
A young monk takes a class on techniques for drawing the human form at Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang, Cambodia.
PHARE CIRCUS Right off the bustling streets of Cambodia’s tourist capital sits a lowkey circus tent, tucked in behind the Angkor National Museum. Hand painted lanterns suspended from bamboo poles guide visitors into an intimate tent that serves as a charmingly compact performance arena. Phare Circus in Siem Reap is a showcase piece for the program’s successes. Since the first professional performance in 2002, Phare Ponleu Selpak’s circus troupes tour every year in Cambodia and abroad in Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa. This provides an important outlet to all those involved and continues to lead the way in rebuilding Cambodia, while also showcasing the vibrancy and raw talent of emerging Khmer artists. The intimacy of the venue brings guests within arms length of the action – and action is something Phare Circus is sure to deliver! Performers push the human form to its physical peak with an incredible acrobatic performance, mixed with theatrical drama and contemporary Khmer music. It is an exhilarating experience in itself, but is made even more special when the story of the performers is shared. 52
SIEM REAP DUMPSITE - ANGLONG PI Just 40 minutes away by car, tucked away down a windy dirt track, the dump site sits far from the eyes of the 1.2 million people who visit the temples and bars of Angkor Wat and Siem Reap every year. It is a grim survival. The men, women and children who work here spend upwards of twelve hours a day digging through the endless piles of waste, scavenging for plastics and other recyclable items that can be sold cheaply to recycling plants. Their health and safety is put at incredible risk to earn about USD $0.50 cents per day â€“ sometimes more, if there is a fresh arrival of waste from town. Dump sites like this one are a sad reflection of the severe poverty in Cambodia, a country where more than one third of the population live on less than USD $1 per day. However, there is significant assistance available for the individuals who live and work on the dump site. Just a few hundred metres away sits the beautiful Anglong Pi Kaliyan Mith centre, a Friends International initiative supported by UNICEF. The centre exists solely to help the families who work on the dump site. One of the focus areas of Anglong Pi is to improve the working conditions for people who scavenge on the dump site. While a seemingly impossible task, the team have developed basic ways to improve the health and safety of the individuals who work there. Providing sturdy rubber boots is key to protecting the many people who work barefoot or in open shoes. Face masks and gloves are also provided to help keep out harmful bacteria and deadly fumes from the burning plastics. They also provide clean drinking water, shower facilities and access to a trained nurse. All of this is free of charge to anyone working on the site, an initiative Anglong Pi is proud to deliver. More than 1.5 million children under the age of 18 are working in Cambodia. Over half of all 7-14 year olds are economically active, with 750,000 of these under the age of 12, a figure hard to imagine. However, with initiatives like Anglong Pi Kaliyan Mith, it is possible to see a brighter future than that which lies in the acrid smoke of the Siem Reap dump site. 61
A thirteen-year-old girl collects plastic to sell after having given up school to earn money for her family at the Siem Reap Dump site.
A girl climbs through the rubbish as a tractor pushes the fresh rubbish deeper into the Siem Reap Dump site.
A large group of dump site workers sort through a recently delivered pile of rubbish, looking for recyclable and other materials to sell.
A young female worker pauses for a moment to look through a discarded book found amongst the rubbish.
ANGLONG PI & VOCATIONAL TRAINING The team at Anglong Pi also works tirelessly towards breaking the poverty cycle that keeps bringing people back to the dump in search of income. To them, this means ensuring all children receive an education. Anglong Pi provide a day care and education centre for children whose parents work on the dump site. Children under 6 can spend all day with carers at the centre learning basic academic skills, while those old enough to be in school have access to informal classes. So far, 100 children who have passed through the centre have been integrated into formal education into a public school, a phenomenal achievement. Friends International also give workers on the dump site direct access to a Vocational Training Centre, where they can learn practical skills to integrate into the work force, a direct combatant to the cycle of rubbish collection that keeps so many trapped in poverty. Skills learnt at the vocational training centre include mechanics, beauty therapy, hairdressing and screen-printing shirts and bags. 70
Students partaking in the Friend Internationalâ€™s Kaliyan Mith program supported by UNICEF, have the opoortunity to learn a number of skills to help them gain a job, providing a stable source of income for themselves and their families.
The four young men above are hairdressing students, eager to show off their newest hairstyles. 73
PHOTOGRAPH INDEX Jameson Clifton 6-7, 10, 15, 18, 27, 28, 29, 37, 40, 57, 64, 65,67, 71 (top left), 73, 73 (all), 79.
Peter Farmer Front cover, 60-61, 62, 63.
Kimberley McCosker 9, 12-13, 14 (all), 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 30-31, 32-33, 34, 35 (all), 38, 39, 40-41, 42-43, 44, 44 (all), 45, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 53, 54, 55 (all), 56, 5859, 66, 68-69, 71 (top right, bottom), 72, 74, 75, back cover.
Copyright of all images is owned by the artist. All rights reserved.
Australian-American content creator, specializing
A lover of travel and photography, Peter
A life-long love affair with the written word led
in developing and executing brand marketing strategy through visuals across digital, print, and display
snowsports, surf n' skate, lifestyle, fitness, tourism, active-wear, outdoor fashion, hunting/fishing, and tactical brands. Taking advantage of dual citizenship, Jameson currently maintains a client base in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.
between both hemispheres has provided an advantageous creative and strategic perspective. With a passion for skiing, biking, surfing, and the great outdoors, combined with a journalistic and commercial background, he's adept at capturing compelling, authentic visuals for a variety of international clientele. jamesonclifton.com
started studying a Bachelor of Photography (Photojournalism) in 2012. After an extensive trip
he was prompted to make it his lifeâ€™s goal to travel and document the cultures and experiences he encounters. A trip to Peru saw his work exhibited at the Queensland College of Art. From this, he has developed an interest in humanitarian aid and a passion for documenting and raising awareness of events and consequences of human actions. Future projects after Cambodia include long term travel throughout South America and the United States. peterfarmer.com.au
Kimberley to study journalism and, encouraged by crossing many borders with her camera in tow, she is currently pursuing a career as a photojournalist. Kimberley has a profound passion for international politics and human rights, which has led her to undertake key roles in social justice projects. These include leading the Brisbane chapter of an international street photography project designed to combat homelessness, and co-founding a not for profit organisation aimed at assisting and supporting artists with a refugee background living in Queensland. She has also acted as Editor-InChief of foreign affairs magazine The Working Paper, and coordinated the 2013 Brisbane Model United Nations Conferences and 2014 Asia-Pacific Model United Nations Conference. kimberleymccosker.com 77
Want to know more? The following is a list of useful websites to get you started.
United Nations Childrenâ€™s Fund: www.unicef.org.au UNICEF Cambodia: www.unicef.org/cambodia Friends International: www.friends-international.org Phare Ponleu Selpak: www.phareps.org Operations Engants du Cambodge: www.oecbtb.org Bremen Overseas Research and Development Association: www.borda-net.org