Lidia Linde, a hero in child protection

Lidia Linde in Heros

I invite you to read this profile of Lidia Linde Ginesta (Ma Lidia), portrayed by Unsung Heroes Compassion. Just in the middle of many denounces of fake orphanages in Cambodia that are only facades for hidden business using poor children, we need to look up real and transparent experiences and, who more than real and transparent than Lidia. If someone has any doubt of who is she, just walk into her Siem Reap office and check any possible book, contact any of her donors and know her story, far from fiction and full of heroicity. 

A former flight attendant, who has been in the five continents. A student of psychology, who suspended just one year far from her graduation in order to attend children in Cambodia. A single woman who became the mother of 40 kids arrived from heaven… yes, from heaven, because contrary to many, she did not come to Cambodia to open an orphanage, as many do. She came and got an orphanage that was given to her by the British, Spanish and Cambodian authorities “because we know you already and we know that these children will be protected by you,” said in 2010 a British policeman, who announced that the then director of the orphanage was accused of child abuse – the former orphanage was officially closed.

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Dei Komá (The Children’s Land), the name Lidia gives to the new are for the development of the Together for Cambodia Organization in Siem Reap. Photo Courtesy Lidia Linde.

It changed her life. She could say no. Instead, she thought immediately in the 40 children that would face traumas in the cyclone of judicial events to come. Resigning from her job at the air company, she made her home at Siem Reap. Holding strong on her convictions, she remained loyal to kids that could not pay nothing to her. Looking advice throughout Cambodia, in Spain, in Australia, in England, in US, she soon became an expert in child protection. Don’t mention to her things such as “orphanage tourism” or preparing her children to “entertain foreign visitors” to get funds. “My children are not a tourist attraction,” she says, citing the slogan of a campaign leading by some anti trafficking organizations.

Today Together for Cambodia is a model in child protection and orphanage. It has only 40 children, but it plans to extend itself to a better. Running now in a small land in the middle of the city, the organization got a new place to build an educative project to attend more children from vulnerable groups like street children, beggar kids, children victims of domestic violence and abuse. Some organizations, including the local department of child and juvenile protection, visit the center not to check what is going on, but to learn how things can be put on place when you talk about protecting children.

It is possible to follow Lidia’s activities through her Facebook page or be included in her mailing list to get the regular newsletter.

Every moment, every day, every activity, is always full of dynamism, reports and the participation of the kids:

“We have always wanted to share, with the children of our community, our extra school classes. It was just not possible at our current location but now we have The Children’s Land and the space to build a proper school. It is the second of our buildings to start construction and it will be built at the same time as our first, The Girls’ House,” she says in her newsletter.

Like Lidia, there should be many real and transparent experiences in Cambodia that need to be known, hidden real heroes without fantasies, fighting really to give hope to our Cambodian problems.

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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).

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