We all need signs in our lives that we are headed the right way. I got mine when a young participant of the ‘Writing Through’ creative writing workshop I conduct at Anjali House asked me a serious question. Writing Through workshops use the writing of poems and stories in English to develop literacy, thinking skills and self-esteem, and in this workshop we had been discussing and writing about the different meanings of the word ‘bridge’. The Anjali House student asked me “Sue, can pain be a bridge?” and I was amazed. What a complex and sensitive insight that was. At that point I knew that both Anjali House and I were heading in the right direction.
From Writing Through to now being a board member at Anjali House, I feel enriched and grateful for the change we have been able to bring about through education, health, and the arts.While we have been able to bridge the gap for many underprivileged children, we have also been able to create newer bridges with organizations and people across the world. They not only understand our journey but share our vision of nurturing the younger generation of Cambodia in a way that can have far-reaching consequences for the community as a whole. These bonds of friendship make us stronger and hopeful for the years ahead.
Anjali House was born out of a simple idea of impacting the lives of the young Khmer generation so that they can be the change they want to see. Back in 2005, it began quite literally with the Angkor Photo Festival motivating young children to see and capture their world through the camera and they are, till today, our longest standing friendship.
These friendships have enabled us to create an environment where children do not have to beg or work, and instead spend their most formative years to develop both their physical and mental capacities.
Our Education, Basic care, Family Support, and Young Adult programs are all based on this philosophy of raising the collective consciousness of the community through smart partnerships and widening the circle of influence. We are thankful to all our donors who have made sure that our programs achieve their desired results. We feel that we have been successful if, for example, an Anjali House student inspires his cousin to not drop out of school, or to follow basic hygiene practices, or to pursue access to basic healthcare, or influences their parents’ behavior to ensure a healthy and peaceful environment at home.
Simon Ke, Director of Anjali House, looks back at our early days fondly. “I still remember the days when Green Gecko and Anjali House ran from a small house on the outskirts of Siem Reap to provide support to underprivileged kids and their families. While we have both grown individually, over the years we continue to share best practices and our students regularly attend workshops conducted by Green Gecko.”
We have also been able to provide aid in cash and kind to our students thanks to our partners like DaLimit Foundation, Angkor Hospital for Children, Chance2Study and 99 Bikes, through access to funds, yearly health checkups, scholarships and bicycles, respectively.
Our Young Adult Program prepares our teens to integrate successfully into their future professional lives. Considering this is a crucial time for them, we are grateful to our friends at PEPY who continue to invest time in connecting young Cambodians to the skills, opportunities, and inspirations needed to reach their potential. In order to have a lasting impact on their entire development, it is essential that we break the silence about taboos like domestic violence and reproductive health among both the parentand the child. Our partnerships with the Women’s Resource Center, Cambodian Women’s Crisis Centre, and Soulcial Trust are aligned to this vision.
“Many of our students come from high stress home environments which adversely effects their mental growth. We believe that over a long period of time, these workshops and counseling-led interventions will improve their lives both at and after Anjali House”, adds Mom Phlan, our Social Worker at Anjali House who leads the Family Support Program.
Lastly, and more importantly, we have a vibrant learning environment at Anjali House thanks to the volunteers from around the world who bring the best of their individual cultures and skills. For the students at Anjali House, many of whom have never travelled outside Siem Reap, this is a great way to get worldly wise. Our friends at ConCERT have helped us and the community at large by connecting the right volunteers to the right humanitarian projects.
I hope that these friendships that we have made over the last two decades grow stronger and we continue to enable the younger generation of Cambodia to live more fulfilling lives for themselves and the collective good of their country. If you want to join us in any way, please do get in touch via our website. You can never have too many friends!
All the best,
Anjali House Board Member