Diaries | Rights


Damnok Toek, an organisation we work with in Cambodia, takes in street children and offers rehabilitation to reintegrate them into society.


Seng* is a 17-year-old Cambodian boy with a very difficult family background. The eldest son in a family of five children, he was picked on every night by his alcoholic father who beat him.

Tired of this situation, Seng began to live on the streets. In the evenings, he would find a bed in the market area and fall asleep. In the mornings, he would get up, beg to get something to eat, and in time, due to the family trauma and loneliness, he began to take drugs and to meet other young people from a difficult past with whom he committed petty theft.

At the end of 2019, however, Seng discovered the existence of the Damnok Toek centre and became part of the ‘Mobile Rehabilitation’ project, which aims to improve the living conditions of street children by providing material and psychological support and learning opportunities.

Many girls in the centre, for example, have run away from home after being abused; other young people have left their city to look for work but have not found a job and have found themselves living on the streets; others have been forced to beg. The staff of the centre identify these young people and invite them to follow a rehabilitation path, providing them with three meals a day, a place to sleep, the possibility of attending school, doing sports, meditation, but also gardening courses and creative workshops.

In the centre, boys and girls can also follow awareness-raising courses on drug abuse and, in the last period, a course on the importance of hygiene and distancing was started to prevent the spread of the pandemic. Finally, in groups and on an individual basis, the minors are followed by psychologists who help them to overcome the traumas they have suffered and to facilitate the process of rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

From July to September, three boys and two girls were reintegrated into their families and two others are awaiting final assessment by the staff, who will continue to monitor the situation even after the young guests have left the centre.

With the closure of the borders due to the pandemic, it has been very difficult to trace the families of the children from Thailand, partly because the youngest children do not remember where they came from. However, with the opening of the borders at the beginning of 2022, the search for the families will be able to continue in cooperation with other NGOs and local authorities.

Seng experienced a difficult childhood and adolescence, but now he has become an educator at Damnok Toek and tells us: “I work with children who face problems like those I had so that they can receive support and leave the street life. In the future I want to study vocational training, to have new job opportunities. I will always be grateful to Damnok Toek for making me what I am today”.

Mani Tese supports Damnok Toek through the project ‘Safe Children in Cambodia’. Make a donation to ensure medical care, hot meals or school supplies.

Click here to donate: https://donazioni.manitese.it/en/

*Seng is a fictitious name to protect the privacy of the child.

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