A not-for-profit organization based in Sihanoukville is using art as a therapeutic means to help abused children and warn others of the dangers they face from abusers.
‘Let Us Create’ is training 160 beach children at their center and helping to cut the number of beach child-vendors selling children to paedophiles.
“The majority of children are the beach kids who work from morning until late night,” says, ‘Let Us Create’ Program Manager Leah Kidd.
“Sometimes they don’t go home at night because they need to earn money for their family. I cannot speak for the children themselves, but I imagine they are very tired. They have to work so hard.”’
Kids at the beach sell souvenirs like necklaces, fireworks or bracelets to tourists every day. While most visitors happily patronize their offerings, children can be at risk to those who might abuse them.
Aside from offering free education to the children,’ Let Us Create’ provides some form of financial aid to their families to allow their kids to attend art classes.
Mainly foreign artists teach the kids on how to draw or use acrylics and paint. Leah believes that art is like therapy that helps heal some of the children’s problems, allowing them to express their feelings.
“These children came from the poor background. I guess they are the poorest children,” Leah says. Through arts, the children can express their feelings of loneliness, sadness and joy.
‘Let Us Create’ sells the paintings the children created at its gallery in Sihanoukville. A series of paintings titled ‘Entitlement to Freedom’ will be put on display in the Botanic Cafe in Phnom Penh on July 23.
Chab Chamreoun, president of ‘Let Us Create,’ wants people to appreciate the paintings rather than the children’s background.