Designing Dreams & Building Futures

In January 2017, Free To Shine submitted a grant proposal to the Go Philanthropic Foundation to make a 50-60 minute professionally produced film interviewing amazing Cambodian women who have forged successful careers. The rationale behind the project was this: As many of our girls head into their early-teens, they start to feel more responsible for their families financial struggles, and it becomes more difficult to keep them motivated to stay in school. Many of the girls supported by Free To Shine’s scholarship program live in difficult, disadvantaged circumstances. Most experience either extreme poverty or complex family problems. Without strong goals and inspiration, we know Continue Reading →

2017 Trafficking In Persons Report

The 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report or TIP Report was released on the 27th of June by the U.S. State Department. The TIP report is released annually and categorizes governments based on their documented efforts to acknowledge and combat human trafficking. The report begins with an introduction to human trafficking from the US Secretary of State and reads:    “Human trafficking is one of the most tragic human rights issues of     our time. It splinters families, distorts global markets, undermines     the rule of law, and spurs other transnational criminal activity.     It threatens public safety and national security. Continue Reading →

Happy 7th birthday!

Written by Nicky Mih Today is International Children’s Day, dedicated to raising awareness of issues affecting children. As you know, our work focuses on preventing girls being trafficked by helping them achieve their human rights to be free from slavery, access education, safe drinking water, enough food to not be hungry and
 adequate shelter. Today is also our 7th birthday, an opportunity to reflect on our impact and thank each of you for your support. As usual our girls and their families have faced all sorts of difficulties and challenges from hunger and lack of nutrition, to contracting TB, to Continue Reading →

A puppy, a leader in the making & a lightning storm

Written by Nicky Mih, founder and MD I sometimes wonder how we fit so much into a week and it’s not until I sit and reflect for the purposes of writing a blog post such as this that I realise the amount. There’s always lots to learn, always lots to do, and it’s always diverse. It’s something I love about what I do. It also amazes me the relative ease and joy with which we accomplish it. The week began with myself and Sreymom, our Program Officer, attending a conference on sustainable funding. It was a good opportunity to work Continue Reading →

How One Fish is Fighting Malnutrition

Written by Lizzy McCormack Not having enough food is a major factor affecting the retention of Cambodian students in schools. Free To Shine’s agriculture project provides our girls and their families with seeds to grow vegetable gardens, and for most girls on our program, this provides adequate supplementary nutrition. However, some of our families are unable to take advantage of their seeds because they cannot grow the thriving gardens that they so desperately need. Take Sreyleak* for example. Her house is built on low-lying land which, whenever it rains, floods and drowns her garden. Or Chantrea* whose father often drinks Continue Reading →

Addressing the Right to Adequate Shelter

Written by Lizzy McCormack We don’t think that anyone would argue the importance of having a safe, secure place to live. But can you truly imagine what it would be like to live without? Take Sala* and her family for example. When Free To Shine met Sala almost 2 years ago, her house had walls that were full of holes, and a roof that leaked every time it rained. Sala is now 16 years old and in grade 8. She lives with her mother and four younger siblings who are 14, 12, 3, and almost-1 years old. Her father left Continue Reading →

The Importance of Family Based Care

Written by Lizzy McCormack and Biba Honnet Over 80% of the estimated 8 million children living in institutions worldwide are not orphans.  Most have families who could be caring for them if they had the right support.  At Free To Shine we work with our girls, their immediate families and extended-family members, neighbours, and community leaders, to build a web of support that is designed to lift them out of vulnerability and keep them safe. We address complex, ever-changing and often interlinked factors, such as poverty, illness, family violence and breakdown, addiction, unemployment, migration, and debt. Our team workshop every Continue Reading →

Making an Impact

Written by Nicky Mih Friday was the first time we’ve ever had the pleasure of working with Deloitte. Deloitte are a professional services network – they apply integrated, multidisciplinary approaches combining insight, innovation and market knowledge to support their clients in achieving their business goals. Each November, they hold an Impact Day to make a positive contribution, an impact that matters. “Impact Day is a very special day for our firm. It enables our 6,000-plus people to spend the day giving back to the community” says Deloitte Australia’s CEO Cindy Hook. We wanted to be smart in our approach, so Continue Reading →

Back To School

Written by Lizzy McCormack This is our favourite time of year at Free To Shine. It’s a time of frantic preparation, anticipation, and most importantly, joy. It is time that we send all 700 of our girls back to school. Every girl receives a “back to school pack”, comprising of exercise books, pens, a school bag, uniforms, shoes, and anything else she needs to succeed at her education. These items are bought, packed and personally delivered by our dedicated Education Officers and Social Workers. On delivery days our tuktuk resembles Santa’s sleigh, filled to capacity with parcels and packages and Continue Reading →

Graduating Class of 2016

Written by Lizzy McCormack In August, grade 12 students from all over Cambodia sat national exams in Khmer, Maths, Biology, History, Chemistry, Physics and English. Ten Free To Shine girls joined them, sitting the seven exams over three consecutive days. We are thrilled to announce that nine passed, and the other has been accepted into a vocational training program run by respected local NGO, EGBOK. This is even more incredible when you consider that only 56% of Cambodian students passed their grade 12 exams in 2016. Girls outperformed the boys in all but four out of twenty-five provinces, and 60% Continue Reading →