Education, community development and residential care

Education at Sunrise Cambodia
Photograph by Tony Lewis
Geraldine Cox at Kandal
The Kandal site at the very beginning

Kandal is the original Sunrise project founded by Geraldine Cox in the early 1990’s. It began as an orphanage and has since evolved to become a world-class community development project. Kandal is a learning centre for hundreds of Cambodian kids, gives free medical care and emergency medical training to surrounding villages and gives full-time residential care to some of the most vulnerable children in Cambodia.

The orphanage model is not a model with a clear exit strategy to enable all kids and communities to thrive in the long run. With this in mind, Sunrise began reaching out to the wider community around Kandal in the mid 2000’s to work out the best way to provide assistance and empower Cambodian’s to embrace their future so that no child is left without care again. In consultation with community leaders, Sunrise Kandal has become a world-class community development centre. Sunrise has employed dozens of skilled local Cambodians to build new, fully insulated houses in the neighbouring communities, install water pumps in villages to give families clean, safe water and initiated a Bike2School project to give transport options to kids who live a long way from school. Over a thousand children within the local community now also benefit from the free education that the Sunrise education program offers. This schooling also gives the kids learning opportunities that are hard to come by in Cambodia, such as classes in art, dancing, English and computer literacy.

Sunrise Cambodia’s community development projects in Kandal are working to build a secure and sustainable future for Cambodia so no child finds themselves without a home or basic human rights ever again. It’s slow, rigorous work and in the meantime there are still at risk kids for which full-time residential care is absolutely essential. Kids that have been trafficked, are vulnerable or are affected by HIV/AIDS still need the protection and support that full-time residential care gives. Sunrise has under 100 at-risk kids in our care. It’s not the ideal solution but it’s the best there is and every effort is being made to make sure this numbers goes down with our community support, whilst ensuring the safety of the kids remains our number one priority.


Repurposing for the future of Kandal

The number of children in full-time residential care has been greatly reduced thanks to the hard work of skilled local social workers who are repatriating children into families and communities where they are sure they will be safe and happy. Because of this, many buildings in Kandal have been repurposed to suit the changing needs of the community.

Old dormitory accommodation on site has been reimagined into an early child care centre. Child care is a huge problem for working families in the community. Caring for an infant in Cambodia means either denying a parent a much-needed income for their family or taking an older sibling out of school to look after their little brother or sister. Both of these options disadvantage the family hugely, especially the women who are often left responsible for the child. Sunrise gives these women and families another, safe choice with their full-day child care center at Kandal. Mum and dad can go to work and bring home money, food and security, the older siblings can go to school and get the education and skills they need to thrive, and the young kids can learn and socialise in a safe environment. Everyone wins.

Another building that used to house kids in residential care has been repurposed as a fully-equipped medical center for the children in residential care. Sunrise staff are currently in negotiation with the Cambodian Ministry of Health to open this health clinic up to the public. This clinic could serve hundreds of families from the wider community every month, for free.

health projects in Cambodia

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