Sok Sabay is a french non-profit association created in 1995, apolitical and non-religious. We are helping children in situations of abuse, abandon, torture, neglect and all kinds of child exploitation in Cambodia and Laos. In Phnom Penh, children live full-time in a shelter with all the necessary comfort. They follow an education at school and recreation activities on daily basis through sport, music and plastic art. Sok Sabay is, above all, a children shelter. We believe in a better future far from poverty and violence in which they lived. We provide education, healthy lifestyle and medical monitoring care follow up according to their pathology. In Luang Prabang and Phongsaly, based in Laos, we are building dormitories for girls of different ethnic groups. Scholarships are also offered to the Akha girls from Northwest Laos. Our vision : providing education to girls from different ethnic groups of Laos and deprived of all academic support.
Though her involvment with Sok Sabay, Marie Camal received the Time Magazine 2004 European Heroes Distinction. Nicknamed as “The Children’s Crusader”, the magazine praised Marie’s dedication and strength in saving abused children in Cambodia.
After 5 years in the refugee camps at the thai-khmer border in the 1980s, I was in front of an emergency case. As a woman, I have witnessed scenes of unimaginable devastation and suffering. I had to act against poverty and the remnants of war. That’s why I decided to work in Cambodia.
Children get up early in the morning to have breakfast and shower. Then they’ll clean their plates and clean their room. Some of the children go to school in the morning while the others stay at the shelter to do their homework until 10am. They will then eat their first snack and have free time until the first group returns from school: board games, outdoor games, reading… Some children help our cook prepare lunch during this free time.
All the kids are setting the table and going to lunch together! This is a very important time when the children help each other together and get together for lunch. They learn respect and courtesy by serving the youngest girls first and the older boys last. As soon as they are finished, they will clear their plates and prepare for the rest of the day.
The children who stayed in Sok Sabay in the morning pick up their backpacks and leave for school just after lunch while the others stay at the shelter and rest until 2pm. When they wake up they will do their homework until around 4pm. They will then take a small snack and enjoy their free time until the other children arrive, with various activities. Children shower after school and before yoga.
Just before eating, the children practice half an hour of yoga every day, to relax and concentrate. At the end of yoga, the children will eat their evening meal in the same organization as lunch. At the end of the meal, the children clear their plates and some, such as the smallest, go to bed while others have evening classes before bedtime.
Sok Sabay’s administrative office is located in Paris. The latter is composed of a President, a Vice-President and a Treasurer.
The Sok Sabay centre located in Phnom Penh welcomes a team of 4 people divided between the day and the evening. We also welcome several occasional teachers who give complementary courses.
In Laos, Sok Sabay is working with other stakeholders to build dormitories for girls from Akha minorities.