Stung Mean Chey Center
Stung Mean Chey (SMC) is the name of the municipal garbage dump in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It has been closed since 2009 but many former waster pickers have chosen to continue to live in the area. About 10,000 people live in the slum that borders the dump. The waste pickers and their children, barefoot and shirtless, some as young as 4, used to work long hours to earn less than a dollar a day.
These children were not receiving any education before PIO started its center and were poor and illiterate with little future prospects. PIO opened its first schoolrooms at Stung Mean Chey in August 2004, running classes around the kids work schedules at the dump so they could still earn a living. As the school was located right in the center of the community and is provided free of charge, more and more parents are allowing their kids to attend. When we first opened we were bribing kids to come by giving them food. Today it is a different story with over 400 children attending class- we are now struggling to keep up with the demand for more classroom space. PIO has build strong ties to the SMC community and many residents who used to travel to live where they could find work, are now convinced to stay since their children are provided an education free of charge through PIO.
Borei Keila Center
At the end of July 2005, PIO identified a growing and critical need for schooling in the slums of Borei Keila located in the center of the Phnom Penh. These slums are home to thousands of families including hundreds of children who are too poor to go to school. There are no schools located in or near the Borei Keila area. Many children of the families didn’t have access to school or education as the parents deemed it too far and too expensive to send their children to classes.
Based on the need for a school in the area, PIO established an outreach center in the area in 2005. PIO is holding classes at Borei Keila twice a day for 350 kids. Students are provided school materials and served a lunch. There is also access to purified water on site. As more residents move into the area PIO has tried to keep pace with the demand for more classroom space. The area is densely populated and extra space is hard to obtain. We are improving the conditions at Borei Keila to build it into a strong community center, similar to what PIO has done with the Stung Mean Chey School.
Borei Santepheap II
Borei Santepheap II is a newly developed area on the outskirts of the city that is the settlement area for many of the people who lived in the riverside slum in the center of the city. The city needed the land for development and relocated the residents to Borei Santepheap II. The area is located far from the city center and lacks a proper education facility. Furthermore the area is so far from the city center that residents can no longer rely on scavenging for their livelihood.
The community committee in Borei Santepheap II made a formal request to PIO to open an educational facility. PIO agreed to this request and opened a center with 4 classes and one library in 2007. Almost immediately our classes were full and there was the need to expand. Funding was secured in 2011 to build a second and 3rd floor. This was started in Dec 2011 and has just recently been completed.
As of Aug 2012, we are in the process of find funds to build a proper library and computer lab as well as setting up a vocational training center. Please contact us if you are interested to learn more.