In 2011, SOS Children's Village Ratanakiri opened - the fourth Village in Cambodia. Ratankiri is in the north-east of the country, and in one of the poorest regions.
Ratankiri has a diverse population of about 150,000, with mixed backgrounds and languages. Many live in rural areas, and work in agriculture to survive.
One of the poorest regions in Cambodia
Ratankiri is an isolated region, where people endure some of the worst living conditions in Cambodia. Due to a lack of education, most people are unable to read and write. Each year, there are shortages of food.
Health indicators are poor in the region, where there are the highest rates of maternal and child mortality in the country. HIV/AIDS is also an increasing risk. Part of the reason why many suffer from ill-health is that medical care is hard to access. Sometimes there are barriers of language and culture, while at other times medical centres are simply too far away to reach.
Children suffer from malnutrition
Ratanakiri has a young population, with over half under the age of 19. Children and young people suffer most from the poverty and harsh conditions in the area. Child malnutrition is high, and more than one-fifth of children wil die before the age of five.
Families who particularly struggle to care for their children are those from migrant backgrounds or indigenous communities, as well as those who live in households headed by a child or single mother or with elderly relatives.
To support their struggling family, some children have to go to work and therefore miss out on school. Girls are especially at risk of missing out on an education, and less than 9% of girls are literate in rural areas.
How do SOS Children help in Ratanakiri?
After the local government approached SOS Children, we worked with them to develop support for vulnerable children and families in Ratanakiri.
Firstly, we help families who are at risk of falling apart through our community programmes. We offer day care services, so that parents can go out to work. So that their children can go to school, families live in poverty can apply for scholarships.
Secondly, when a child can not live with their family, such as when they have become orphaned or abandoned, they can find a new loving home at our Children's Village. Here they live in an SOS Family, along with new brothers and sisters. An SOS mother becomes their primary carer, and offers them love and support.
Education for life
Little ones go to the SOS Nursery, to receive an excellent pre-school education. Local children also attend, ensuring they are within a safe professional day care environment while their parents work. Later on, children attend the nearby primary and secondary schools.
Due to the high levels of malnutrition in the area, the SOS Social Centre runs a special programme for malnourished children. They are treated and provided with care in a family house in the Village.
Children in Ratanakiri are born into a harsh world, where malnutrition and poverty are rife. We help the most vulnerable to have hope for a brighter today and tomorrow. Will you sponsor a child in Ratanakiri?