The pot of milk scam in Siem Reap

A girl about 12 sits down near the entrance of a supermarket near the Pub Street. She holds in her arms a sleeping baby, observing with attention the foreign customers coming inside the supermarket. It is around 8PM in Siem Reap and the girl gives special gazes to women with children. A woman with two boys leaves the supermarket. Her children hold big packages of chips and cold sodas. Suddenly, the way of the three is cut by the girl, who looks to the eyes of the foreign lady with tenderness. The baby of her arms does not seem disturbed but in a deep sleep. “Ma’am, give me food for my brother, give me a pot of milk, ma’am,” she says in a very fluent English. 

The lady is shocked. She can see the sleeping baby, the claim of the girl asking only food and the presence of his two boys eating chips… The perfect scenario: she is defeated. There is not any possibility of rejection, not any Western logic to debate with such apparition.

Without any word the lady is back inside the supermarket and looks for the milk pot. She chooses the biggest one that is 20 US dollars about. She pays it to the cashier who smiles in a very compressible look. It reinforces the pushed act of charity from the foreign lady, who returns to the entrance like a public hero… but she does not give the milk pot to the girl directly: oh no, she must give a good lesson to her two boys… she gives the pot to the older boy and tells him to hand it to the girl, but… wait… “we need to take a photo”, so this “spontaneous act of charity” will be registered very well in Facebook, Twitter or in her blog.

The lady left the scenario and by sure she will sleep with a feeling of satisfaction: she did charity to that poor sleeping baby that got the biggest milk pot, while giving a lesson to her boys of how good people must behave…

As soon as the Samaritan lady and her boys are out of view, the girl comes inside the supermarket and puts back the milk pot… the baby continues sleeping… then she turns to the good cashier who makes a mark on a list. Then the girl goes back to the same place, to wait the next victim, preferable women with small children, the most vulnerable. It is also probable that the the same pot of milk is given several times that night…

This scam is one of the most frequent in the streets of Siem Reap and it has been for years without any control. But this criminal business is getting its golden time this year. Now it is possible to see about ten girls with sleeping babies asking the milk pot to foreigners. One curiosity is why the baby is always sleeping and does not seem disturbed by nothing?

The most probable is that the baby is rented and the criminals give them drugs to keep them quiet.


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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, and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (

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