When was it built?
The Shelter was built in 2009 using the money Phymean received from her CNN Top 10 Heroes Award the previous year. Additional funding was provided by PIO Board
members. It was built to provide a safe and secure accommodation for students who either had nowhere to live or who were living with family members who were unable to provide for them.
Where is the Shelter located?
Prior to 2017 the Shelter was a two story building located next to the Stung Meanchey school.
Following a decision by the owner of the land to sell the site PIO moved the students to dormitories in the old school building at Stung Meanchey. That is a temporary measure: PIO would like to buy the land and build a new Shelter. A donor has offered to pay for the new building but first PIO must raise $180 000 to purchase the land.
Who lives there?
Some of the children had lost one or both parents to AIDS or other diseases. Others had been abandoned by parents who had migrated to Thailand or other South East Asian countries seeking employment. Some children were living with their grandparents or other relatives who were too poor to support another person in their home. There were also those who were living in homes where there was violence and alcohol abuse. For all of those children staying at the PIo Shelter enabled them to live in a safe and caring environment and to continue their education.
Is the PIO Shelter approved by the government and local authorities?
The Shelter operates with the approval of the Ministry of Social Welfare. They ensure that the Shelter meets the requirements of Cambodian law and that the children are safe and well treated. PIO has legal guardianship of the children, but they are able to return to their parents or extended family whenever they want to.
What does the Shelter provide for those living there?
Students at the Shelter receive all the benefits of other students. In addition they receive three meals per day .
For a number of the PIO students at the Shelter living there has ensured that they can continue their education for as long as they want to. A number are now in their final years of high school. Others have continued their studies at university.
All of those older students are also employed by PIO as teaching assistants or in other work at PIO. The work is paid and enables them to achieve some independence while living at the Shelter.
Who supports the Shelter?
Providing full accommodation for 60 children and young people is expensive. It costs about $30 000 USD to operate the Shelter, $500 per year per child. Fortunately there are a number of individuals and organizations which provide both financial and non-financial to help keep the Shelter going. Some are sponsors who donate $50 per month to support a child at the Shelter, others are local companies that supply rice, water and other essential supplies. Board members have been generous in their support of the shelter often providing funding for essential work and sponsoring some children.
What is the future of the Shelter?
There are many orphanages in Cambodia, some of whom do good work and others that are sub-standard. The Ministry of Social Welfare intends to reduce both the number of orphanages and the number of children living in such institutions.
As long as there is a genuine need to provide a safe home for children most in need, PIO will continue to operate a Shelter, provided that it has the funds to do so.