During the late 1970s, and under the rule of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia experienced extensive genocide and the destruction of its health, education, judiciary and justice systems as well as the dismantling of its transportation infrastructure.
Since then, the country has had to rebuild and restore every facet of its society. While considerable progress has been made to rebuild the country, Cambodia remains one of the poorest in the South East Asian region with high rates of poverty (particularly in the rural areas), infant mortality, domestic violence, child sexual exploitation and trafficking along with low rates of literacy and sub-standard health care. The government provides no preschool education, early intervention or rehabilitation programs, nor does it provide any services for children and adolescents with disabilities.
Over time, many NGOs have been established to address these issues and assist the nation rebuild but many of these are under-resourced as much of the equipment and materials they need are unable to be obtained in Cambodia.
We have been working with highly vulnerable, “at risk” and/or disabled infants, children, teenagers and young adults in Cambodia since February 2006. Over that time partnerships have been established with 30+ agencies in three cities: Phnom Penh, Pursat and Siem Reap.
The word “REECH” is an acronym for three activities that form the core of the organisation’s work in Cambodia: resource, equip and educate.
REECH provides high quality educational and physiotherapy resources to pre-, primary and high schools, day and night care centres, homework clubs, early intervention programs, supported playgroups for infants and toddlers with disabilities, respite centres for teenagers and young adults with disabilities, teenagers and young adults in jail, environmental classrooms and English language classes for young women working in the garment industry or who are moving out of the sex trade industry.
REECH provides whatever is required by a young adult or a family of a child with a disability to generate an income. This has seen the establishment of a number of micro-economic initiatives including seed funding for grocery stores, tools of trade for electricians, carpenters, wood carvers, seamstresses/tailors and beauticians. REECH equips those living in rural areas with agricultural items such as fruit trees, livestock (pigs or chickens) or fishing nets to assist them in establishing income-generating activities and becoming financially self-sufficient.
recognising the pivotal role education plays in breaking the trans-generational cycle of poverty, REECH facilitates education in a number of ways: paying the fees for young women to undertake post-secondary or tertiary education; paying the salaries of teachers working with children with disabilities; providing school stationery supply packs, school uniforms and shoes and text books; conducting in-service training sessions for primary and secondary teachers, many of whom do not have formal teaching qualifications; supplying young adults learning English with dictionaries & grammar textbooks; and providing bicycles to young female secondary school students so they can get to and from school without being sexually harassed or propositioned by tuk tuk drivers.