Our Vegan & Vegetarian Food Festival in Siem Reap!

This past weekend, Free To Shine hosted its first fundraising event in Siem Reap! (Last month, Rosy’s Guesthouse in Siem Reap donated profits from a pub quiz to Free To Shine, but this is the first event in Cambodia planned and hosted by us!) Our main goal for the Vegan & Vegetarian Food Festival was to raise awareness about Free To Shine and elevate our local profile. This was extremely important because for many years, Free To Shine has had a low profile in Cambodia and relied entirely on Australia for fundraising and events. Cambodia is a very collectivist country Continue Reading →

The day we found a bomb…

Two weeks ago, while we were locking up the office, a tuktuk driver waiting in our driveway saw something half-buried in the dirt. By the time we made it to the driveway, the tuktuk driver had completely dug up and was now holding a circular, metal object. As we were walking toward him he calmly stated: “I think this is a bomb”. We STRONGLY discourage anyone touching anything that resembles a bomb. We did not hold it and asked the tuktuk driver to put it back carefully and step away. For bomb or explosive related assistance in Siem Reap, Cambodia Continue Reading →

“First They Killed My Father”

First They Killed My Father is a 2017 film directed by Angelina Jolie and written by Jolie and Loung Ung. The story is based on Ung’s memoir of the same name. The film is set in 1975 during the rise of the Khmer Rouge. The plot follows Ung as a 7 year old whose family is pushed out of the city by the Khmer Rouge and forced to submit to the regime. The film was released on Netflix September 15th and has been widely celebrated in Cambodia. Last Friday, our staff all sat down to watch the film together, with Continue Reading →

A donation to ignite change

This last week over 250 copies of Thavry Thon’s book were donated from a kind supporter through a local bookstore. The donor had been following Free To Shine for many years and after meeting the author of “A Proper Woman,” was inspired to provide copies of her book in Khmer to every girl in our program, ages 14 and above. To say we were extremely excited by this news is an understatement. The team at Free To Shine was blown away by the supporter’s generosity and is thankful to have made the connection with both the supporter and author. Below Continue Reading →

Global Estimates of Modern Slavery and Child Labour

The following graphics are from Alliance 8.7’s 2017 report on modern slavery. Alliance 8.7 is a international networking group formed under the International Labour Organization (ILO). Alliance 8.7 and it’s members are working to raise awareness and eradicate modern slavery in all its forms. Each year they will release global estimates of modern slavery and child labour. This year’s report features updated statistics and trends regarding child labour, forced marriage, commercial sexual exploitation and other forms of modern slavery. We’ve compiled some graphics from https://www.alliance87.org/ to summarize their  research below: Free To Shine’s educational framework works to prevent all forms Continue Reading →

Welcome to the rainy season in Siem Reap!

The rainy season here in Siem Reap lasts from May to November, with 80 percent of the annual rainfall occurring during these months. This past month has been especially rainy, with daily downpours followed by flash flooding. For those who haven’t been to Cambodia during the rainy season, or perhaps not at all, we thought it would be interesting to share some photos and a video of the roads our team travels on everyday.   Our Education Officers and Social Workers travel to rural villages nearly every day, which can take anywhere between 30 to 90 minutes each way. These Continue Reading →

School Supplies Delivery in Cambodia

September is an exciting, though somewhat hectic, month for the Free To Shine team in Siem Reap. With back-to-school right around the corner, our Education Officers and Social Workers are out in the field nearly every day, delivering new school supplies and holding presentations for the girls and families we enroll.       The high cost of uniforms and other supplies can be a barrier for disadvantaged families, preventing them from sending their children to school. At the beginning of every school year, each girl enrolled with us receives a batch of new items needed to attend school, including: school uniforms, Continue Reading →

Gender & Equity Training

Sreymom, our Free To Shine Program Officer, is passionate about promoting gender equity in Cambodian society and within the workplace. She recently sought out a partnership with another vocal advocate, Chhum Ratha, Gender Equity Program Manager at Caring for Cambodia. Together, the two developed and facilitated a full-day training for our staff members focused on the complex, often sensitive topic of “Gender Roles & Stereotypes”. The training aimed to examine and challenge the participant’s attitudes and beliefs about gender, to create a safe forum for discussion and to gain higher understanding of other gender identities. Throughout the day they covered Continue Reading →

Free To Shine Staff Members Graduate!

Please join us in congratulating four of our staff members who graduated this past weekend! Sreymom, our Program Officer, has completed her MBA in Entrepreneurship Managemet. Sreymom says that “education is a key factor in a country’s development, so every child must be provided the chance to go to school, especially girls” because educated girls will grow up to be women who can make decisions about their lives, make their own money, and transfer knowledge to the next generation. Phanna, an Education Officer, graduated with a Bachelors degree in Law and Social Science. Phanna has had such happy memories during Continue Reading →

ReThink the Orphanage Model & Keep Families Together

ReThink Orphanages Working Group Free To Shine is pleased to announce our new membership with the ReThink Orphanages: Better Solutions for Children Working Group. ReThink Orphanages is a cross sector network aiming to prevent the unnecessary institutionalisation of children around the world, promote family based care alternatives, and encourage responsible tourism. The Problem Between 2005 and 2015, Cambodia saw a 60 percent rise in the number of orphanages and residential care facilities. In 2015, the ministry recorded 254 institutions housing 11,171 children. With a subsequent increase in awareness and advocacy, many assume that the number of orphanages has declined since Continue Reading →