Can a pen change a child’s life?
We have thirty-six children waiting for a mentor to be matched. Can you be a mentor for one of them?
These are kids who are low risk for trafficking right now, but struggling at school and home, and need a little more encouragement and kindness in their lives. A simple letter written just for them.
Will a simple letter really make a difference?
Yes. Our kids keep every letter carefully, and read them over and over and they’re eager to write back. For almost all of them, this is the first piece of mail they’ve ever received. Knowing someone in another country cared about them enough to write a letter, and most of all, that that person wants to know about them, their hopes and dreams – that is a Big Deal to our kids, who are used to being ignored by the world.
Don’t you have to be super-perfect to be a mentor?
Nope. You have to be kind. That’s really it. You don’t have to be a brilliant writer, or know lots about Cambodia or even children. You’ll need to have a working pen and a coffee break to write a letter once a month. We’ll send reminders and keep track of letters so you don’t even have to be organised! Just write with kindness.
Is it like a sponsoring a child?
Close, but with a twist. Because our kids all come from families struggling with really difficult problems, we think very carefully about how we match you to a child. Shared interests like football, a child’s dreams of becoming a nurse, being the youngest in the family – we look for shared elements to build a friendship on. For the child receiving your letter, you’re special because you’ve been chosen just for them.
The $45 a month mentorship fee does help a lot as the average cost of a child with Riverkids, but it doesn’t go directly to the child so that children who don’t have mentors get the same help and support too.
So how do I get started?
Reply to this email and we’ll get you sorted out. There’s a short form to fill out and we’ll call you to go over some questions about what your interests are, so we can figure out which child would be the best match to you. Then we’ll send you a welcome pack with their first letter and everything you need to get started.
Can children take part too?
Absolutely! We love matching families – the letters are a wonderful experience to share with children. We prefer not to do direct age matches, but look for shared interests like football or reading, so the children have lots to share.
What if they write about something scary or sensitive and I don’t know what to do?
That’s exactly why we need mentors like you so our children have a safe place to ask for help. All the letters are read by us to look out for worrying problems like this. We’ll help the child first, then update you with advice on helpful things to say in your next letter. Often, what they need is simply to be heard. “You miss your mum a lot. I’m thinking of you, and I hope she comes home soon too.”
Reply to this email and see what you can do with just a pen and paper to help a child, and how much it will mean to you.
First photo by Km Maurice (c) Oxfam
Riverkids works with children and families in danger of abuse and trafficking in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
We identify children at high risk because of extreme poverty, drug abuse, alcoholism, gambling, child abuse or other children or family involved in trafficking. Then, we talk with the families to work out what help they need and what will keep their children safe.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as getting the children enrolled in school. Other times, we need to provide emergency shelter for abused children and urgent medical care to prevent a greater crisis. For our families, selling their children is a desperate solution to complicated long-term problems that can’t be quickly solved, but instead need patience and compassion to find practical solutions like vocational training and family counselling.
Our community centers are within walking distance from the crowded and dangerous slums our families live in. That makes it easy for the families to ask for help during an emergency, and makes our centers part of the local community. We hire staff from the local slums where possible too.