High season is coming, no money for children

Children going around Sihanoukville picking up recyclable material to sell.

This article of Mark McDonald at the New York Times, Don’t Give That Child a Dollar‘  referring to Cambodian children, is just practical and real preventive. Cambodia is preparing itself for the high season and an optimistic number of 3 million visitors this year, according to official estimates. By this moment hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, air companies, public transport individuals and many others are preparing to welcome all those tourists, who like to see the temples and go further Siem Reap in tours around the Kingdom of Wonders.

But I will tell you who is also preparing for the happily human tourist wave: human traffickers, drug dealers, child labor abusers, sexual procurers and, of course, corrupt administrators…

Children are used to beg money in tourist spots by adults who can be their families or persons with a strong influence over them. The level of influence can vary from a poor mother that thinks her child should do something to survive and avoids the kid to attend school to evil individuals involved in more mafia-style networks.

Don’t give money to children on beaches and tourist spots. Do not buy things from children during the night. When you do it, you prevent the child from attending school and you stimulate the kid to remain on the streets looking for more ‘kind foreigners’ to ask money. It is a circle. The children will be more vulnerable to any kind of abuse.

Do not participate in orphans’ tours. Children are not tourist attractions and orphans offering tours to foreign visitors are far from safe shelters for the children. They use the children as exhibited exotic creatures. If you want to support Cambodian orphans, street children, rural kids, etc, there are plenty of well established organizations you can check and send something.

It is difficult to ignore a kid following you, but it is the best way to promote a change of situation. If children stop to be an economical resource for abusers, they will not be sent to the streets anymore.



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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X39xwdGtVXI) and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (http://www.colombia.co/en/culture/colombians-that-are-making-this-a-better-world.html).

2 responses to “High season is coming, no money for children”

  1. Nick says :

    Great advice though sometimes not so easily followed. There’s a little girl (must be about 10-11 years old) wandering Pub Street in Siem Reap most nights and she’s the best salesperson I’ve ever met – you have to really toughen up to refuse to buy her flowers…

  2. arjay says :

    This reasonable advice I follow since 16 years already, but it doesn’t seem that there are less kids on the streets at night.
    I hope this blog will inform tourists…

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