We believe that all children – regardless of their background – deserve to have access to education and to the healing powers of the arts. By sponsoring a child at Phare Ponleu Selpak, you help us provide art programs and teach professional skills that lead to lasting employment opportunities for students on our campus.
However, Phare’s Collective Child Sponsorship program is different from other child sponsorship programs run by other NGOs doing international development.
Here’s what makes the Collective Child Sponsorship program at Phare Ponleu Selpak both distinct and more responsible as a tool for social development.
Credit: BOUN Bunsetharath
What Is Collective Child Sponsorship?
The Collective Child Sponsorship program is a major component of the overarching Child Protection program. The goal of the Collective Child Sponsorship program is to ensure that children who are most at-risk have access to education by supporting them with the right inputs and resources, such as:
- Health and referral services
- Hygiene items
- School kits
- Nutritious lunch five days a week
- Cash stipend for personal development
- Case management and monitoring
Cash stipends and food allocations are both apportioned after a Phare social worker conducts a needs assessment of a student’s home and family.
At the time of publishing this blog post in 2023, there are 63 students enrolled in the lunch program and 14 students receiving a cash stipend/allowance from different schools within Phare Ponleu Selpak, including the Visual and Applied Arts School (VAAS), the Performing Arts School (PAS), and Phare Kindergarten. The amount of the stipend varies based on the specific circumstances of each student, ranging from $10 to $30 USD per month.
The Collective Child Sponsorship program only applies to students under 18 years of age. For now, Phare Ponleu Selpak supports up to three children within a single family with cash transfers.
Photo credit: Juliette DELORON
Why Does a Collective Sponsorship Model Matter?
Phare’s approach to child sponsorship puts the needs of the child first and ensures every child is equal and equitable. Through our Collective Child Sponsorship model, donations from dedicated sponsors are gathered in a communal pool. This way, Phare Ponleu Selpak can provide targeted support to the largest number of children possible in the most equitable way.
There are a few reasons why Phare Ponleu Selpak uses a collective child sponsorship model rather than a direct child sponsorship model. This is because in most implementations of direct (or parental) child sponsorship, the following can occur:
- Unhealthy dependency relationships between child and sponsor
- Jealousy and discouragement between siblings when one child is sponsored and another is not
- Deep cultural differences and challenges between the donor and the sponsored child
- Unrealistic expectations from sponsor for the child’s achievements
- Gradual disconnection and discouragement between the sponsored child and their real parents
- A hefty amount of administrative overhead on behalf of the organization handling the sponsorship
On the contrary, a collective child sponsorship model ensures that:
- Every child is treated equally and equitably, according to their family’s needs
- No child feels excluded just because they didn’t receive an individual sponsor’s attention
- Children are taken care of by social workers who speak their same language and are part of their same culture
- The expectations of a child’s growth or achievements are realistic, given their background and context
- Every child remains connected to their parents, guardians, or primary care-givers
- Donor funds are not wasted on the substantial task of individual child tracking and reporting
Collective child sponsorship is the ethical choice for child sponsorship programs. By eliminating direct one-on-one relationships, accountability is removed from individual children. Instead, supporters are the ones who are held accountable to the children.
As a child sponsor at Phare Ponleu, you will receive regular stories of hope and change from all the children in the program.
Best Practices of Phare’s Collective Child Sponsorship Program
In order to ensure the maximum and responsible impact of donations from collective child sponsors, the following best practices are part of the Collective Child Sponsorship program:
- Lunch is provided to the children which includes nutritious foods and fruit.
- All sponsored children get access to public education, after-school tutoring at the Child Development Center, campus library, and all arts education activities on the Phare campus.
- All children and young people receive instruction about the importance of nutrition and healthy diet, which is also imparted to their peers.
- Children are weighed and their height measured to maintain records of their healthy physical growth.
How Children Are Selected for the Collective Child Sponsorship Program
The Social Support department and teachers put in a lot of effort to guarantee that the students chosen for sponsorship are selected in an equitable and accurate manner.
All students at Phare Ponleu Selpak, including those in Phare Kindergarten, the Performing Arts School (PAS), and the Visual and Applied Arts School (VAAS) are monitored by their classroom teachers. The teacher then gathers the students’ names and reports the information to the Social Support department.
In order to provide the right level of sponsorship, the Social Support department gathers information, properly picks students, invites them for a meeting, and notifies the students’ parents that they need permission to visit their home and do a family evaluation.
Credit: CHAN Rattanakoudom
All sponsored children who meet Social Support’s eligibility requirements will then be forwarded to the chairman of the sponsorship committee for final evaluation and selection.
How the Collective Child Sponsorship Program Follows-Up with all Stakeholders
The Social Support team schedules regular meetings with sponsored students and their families and also carries out yearly Impact Assessments to guarantee the efficacy of the beneficiaries and stakeholders. In addition to the regular follow-up outlined here, any students or families identified as high risk receive additional follow-up as needed.
Every 2 Months: Meetings with Sponsored Students
The meeting’s goals are to get students feedback on the food, determine whether the current meal meets their needs, find out what more they would like to have, and get an idea of how hygienic the dining area is for the students themselves. Also, individuals will be asked to choose their preferred meal for the upcoming month.
Twice a Year: Parent-Social Support Team Conference
A parent-social support team meeting happens twice a year to encourage and motivate parents to guide their children to learn, advise them to follow up with their children’s schooling habits and learning process, and so on. In addition, the meeting reminds the family to use the allowance in a way that conforms with Phare’s policy and to notify their family upon withdrawing it.
By the End of November: Social Support Team Conducts an Impact Assessment
Before the end of the year, the Social Support department observes and analyzes the changes that occur after the students get sponsorship and determine what has improved and what hasn’t, along with reasons behind it. The impact assessment also monitors if a student has aged out of the program (at 18 or older) or if they’ve violated a sponsorship policy. In these cases, the sponsorship program is suspended. However, some individuals who meet special or extraordinary requirements will remain in the Collective Child Sponsorship program even beyond the age of 18.
As well as encouraging the sponsored students to pursue further education, the Social Support department provides them with some allowance for personal growth and also assists their family with small portions of the expenses.
Stories from Students in the Phare Collective Child Sponsorship Program
KRUD Sovannra is 17 years old and attends Phare Public School in Grade 12. His mother washes clothes for their neighbors, and his father works as a motorbike taxi driver. Together, their income is below the poverty line in Cambodia. Both incomes aren’t enough to support Sovannara and his three siblings.
The Social Support department at Phare Ponleu Selpak assessed the family’s living situation and decided to enroll Sovannra in the free lunch program along with a monthly stipend for his family. This ensured that all siblings would still have access to education.
Through your donations and support, Sovannra is studying hard at school and exhibits good behavior in class. In addition to his general studies, he is learning theatre at Phare Performing School and he serves as the MC before many Phare Battambang Circus shows.
Today, Sovannra is a role model for other young people at Phare Ponleu Selpak.
“I would like to say thank you to Phare Ponleu Selpak who always cares about me and supports me,” said Sovannra. “Without the sponsorship program, I could give up on education or end up in an unexpected place.”
DOS Sreyleak is a 19-year-old living with her father and 3 siblings in Battambang. Sreyleak’s mother died when she was only 7 years old.
Last year, she was studying in Grade 12 at Phare Public School and was also learning Khmer traditional music at Phare Performing Arts School. Sreyleak’s father is a motorbike taxi driver who earns very little every month, and her brother is a day laborer. The family income couldn’t afford children’s studies.
After the social support team at Phare Ponleu Selpak assessed the family’s needs, Sreyleak was given a monthly allowance to ensure she and her siblings could continue to have access to education.
The monthly allowance from the Social Support department has recently helped Sreyleak graduate from high school. Due to an observation of the Social Support Manager, she has been placed to work with Pannasastra International School—Battambang as a Teacher Assistant where she currently works.
How to Contribute to the Collective Child Sponsorship program
By supporting a child at Phare Ponleu Selpak, you guarantee that all children – regardless of background or circumstance – have access to education and the creative freedom of the arts. Your contribution to the Collective Child Sponsorship program provides art programs, after-school tutoring, nutritious meals, professional skills training, and lasting employment opportunities for students in Cambodia.
Make a difference today by contributing to the Collective Child Sponsorship program at Phare Ponleu Selpak and witness how students in Battambang flourish via arts and education.