The vast majority of children and young people living in Cambodia’s orphanages today have parents and other relatives who could be supported to look after them. However, most of these children will not be able to return to live with their families after they leave the orphanages, as they have become disconnected and alienated from their families and communities.
‘Under the shade of the bamboo’ is a Cambodian metaphor describing the protective environment offered by a family. It is also the name of Tearfund Ireland’s partner M’lup Russey, a Christian Non-Governmental Organisation transforming the way vulnerable children and young people are cared for in Cambodia.
M’lup Russey aims to strengthen families so they can stay together, and to offer alternative placements in a family setting instead of an orphanage for children with no family. M’lup Russey is one of the main stakeholders involved in the work to change the care system for orphaned and vulnerable children in Cambodia. The organization has supported the Cambodian Government in drawing up new care guidelines for vulnerable children and is the only one in Cambodia that focuses solely on reuniting families and reintegrating children who have lived in orphanages back into family and community. M’Lup Russey also develops alternatives to orphanages, such as acute foster care placement and helps care leavers to transition. M’lup Russey also works with the children and young people currently in or leaving institutional care and offers them the chance to take part in peer support groups and life skills training. These help young people learn the skills they will need to be safe, independent and socially included when they leave care.