One of the best ways to protect highly vulnerable children is by keeping families together. It’s common knowledge that children need families. Even though we know this, sometimes families break apart, and a lot of the time it’s not their fault. Marriage and raising children are both difficult to do alone – you need people to walk through life with you! And thanks to Kinships who connect struggling families with a strong accountability network, more children get to stay in their families.
The Kinships in Cambodia are doing this in two ways:
- Providing parenting classes for local families
- Giving families a safe place for children to go while parents are working
Parenting Classes in Cambodian Kinships
In America, we have access to books, doctors, and even Google when we are looking for information about parenting. But for most Cambodians, all they have is the limited example of other parents who have gone before them. They raise their children with little help from outside sources.
Seeing this lack of parenting knowledge and support in their community, Kinship Cambodia wanted to teach local parents about how to improve their parenting skills. The Kinship hosted a workshop where children could come and play while their parents could learn more about parenting. But it was about more than that. It was also an opportunity to share the Gospel and worship together with other Christians.
During the teaching, Kinship pastors taught the community about the 3 Ps of raising children:
- Provision: Children need to be nurtured and nourished.
- Protection: Children need protection from any kind of abuse, exploitation, and discrimination.
- Participation: Children need the opportunity to interact with others and build relationships outside the home.
Almost 400 children came to the event. These children had a great time together while their parents learned more about parenting. It was a beautiful event and Kinship Cambodia can’t wait to see how it helps the children in the community grow!
Creating a Safe Place for Children
Another thing the Cambodian Kinships realized is that in most families both of the parents work all day, every day, so there is no one to stay at home and watch the children. If you can believe it, Cambodian children are often left alone at home for hours each day.
Can you imagine leaving your children home alone all day long? Many parents in Cambodia don’t have a choice.
In Steung Hav district this is a particularly difficult issue. The Kinship is in a village by the ocean so many families fish for a living. The fisherman work every day of the week, and leave early in the morning, even before the sun is up. Their wives usually go with them to help grill the fish, peel the crabs, or even weigh and box up everything that has been caught. Both of the parents might be out until after the sun has gone down finishing their duties for the day.
This means their children are left at home, alone, for up to 12 hours a day. Older children learn quickly how to take care of the younger children, but they still need adults who will watch over them. They need a nurturing environment where they can learn and grow.
That’s why the Steung Hav Kinship decided to start a children’s program. Children from the whole community are invited to come to the church each Sunday while their parents are away at work during the day. The children are given the opportunity to draw photos and paint bible pictures that illustrate the meaning of their faith. They have friends they can see, and people to hang out with.
The children’s program lasts all morning and it includes 30-40 minutes of singing, which all the children love the most! They are very active when singing and have made up dance motions for each of the songs. The best part is that these kids are learning and memorizing Scripture! Steung Hav Kinship values scripture memorization because they know that only God can truly transform the lives of these children.
Still, it’s only on Sundays. The Kinship is only able to do this program one day a week because they don’t have the resources to offer this opportunity every day of the week. Providing a daily program would give families a safe place for their children to go every day. It would also protect these kids from child abuse and child labor – real risks they now face. And if the program got enough funding to hire a teacher, then the children would be able to further their education as well.
Would you support the Steung Hav Kinship as they care for children by working to keep families together? You can help them grow their program from Sunday mornings, to caring for kids all throughout the week.