On Saturday we went to help distribute bikes for children who had been evicted from their slum in Phnom Penh to an area with few resources. The story of the eviction is very disturbing because it involved a company and the Government working together. Those who had papers were given some land but those who did not were left on the side of the road with nothing. My friend Sina (who worked with me in Site 2 refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodian border twenty years ago) asked me if we could help these particularly vulnerable evicted children to get to school by providing them with bikes. Getting to school reduces risk of exploitation for children now (it keeps them off the street) and in the future (it provides them with an education). The sub-community leaders got together and organized a ceremony where, in spite of living in blue plastic tents we would be able to formally present the bikes to the 80 children and their families.
On the original day of the ceremony it had to be cancelled because they had received threats that there could be a re-eviction. We were left with a choice. Do we or do we not present bikes knowing they might be destroyed in a re-eviction which could happen tomorrow, next month or next year? We decided that we must keep our promise to this community who had been lied to before and take the risk of still giving the bikes. We did this on Saturday. However, this situation illustrates the chaotic nature of particularly at risk children and the difficulties of helping them.
Glenn Miles, Director of Asia Prevention