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?
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.
Riverkids works with children and families at risk for trafficking and abuse in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Most of our children are high-risk because their families have deep challenges such as drug, alcohol or gambling addiction, or a chronic illness like HIV or serious physical disabilites, or single parent households in desperately poor circumstances with no extended family support, have family members involved in trafficking or sex work, or have already sold a child.It’s very important that we work with the whole family, not just a child at risk. Removing a child from their family and community is our last resort because of the additional trauma and loss that often causes.Instead, we look first to repair the family or to find either extended kin who can help or a foster family within the same community. When one child is at risk, it’s very likely that their brothers and sisters are also in danger.By working with all of them and their parents to figure out what has driven the family to abuse and trafficking, we can come up with solutions that help not just one child, but the whole family and their community.Paying a child’s school fees is the first step. The real solution is helping his mum find a safe reliable job so she can afford to pay his school fees, and giving her guidance and support so she believes that her child has a better future with education. That’s change that will last.
- Donate: The best way to help is also the simplest: donate! You can make a single donation online or donate every month for a huge difference. Support a specific program or site that’s close to your heart: Alexandra, Blum or Railway Two, or one of our programs. Looking to donate items in Singapore or Cambodia? Find out more! And we’re always happy to talk about grants and fundraising ideas.[paypal-donation]
- Sign up to volunteer! We need volunteers in Cambodia, Singapore and online. We work with short and long-term volunteers, as well as school groups. Read our FAQ on volunteering, download Riverkids volunteer forms and learn from stories from other volunteers.
- Speak out! Child trafficking and exploitation needs silence to flourish. If you’re in Cambodia, take our Riverkids Advocacy Tour to learn firsthand about life in the slums and child trafficking in Cambodia. We’ve got books, films and website recommendations too.
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