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Street life comes with constant struggles, from finding money for food to keeping warm and dry when monsoonal rains hit. Not eating properly and being exposed to the elements means people living on the street are more vulnerable to sickness and disease.
CCT does street outreach and medical workshops with street-connected children and their families, working with them to reduce risks and find solutions that lead to a path out of poverty.
Recently, a team consisting of CCT Social Workers and Nurses delivered a health workshop to 20 homeless children and adults living near Sangkae River. The social workers conducted initial risk assessments to identify needs and offer tailored support. Nurse Bopha talked with them about oral hygiene and how to protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases. The team did the same with a group of 27 in the slum area.
“Rainy season is here, increasing the risk of Malaria and Dengue Fever, which is why it’s critical that people living on the street know how to protect themselves.”
It was during the workshop that Bopha met 10-year-old Devi*, who was in a lot of pain after having an accident.
“He was on the back of a bicycle, with someone else pedaling when his foot got caught in the wheel, leaving him with deep wounds on his foot and ankle.”
“On top of that, boiling water spilt onto his wound while he was cooking.”
Bopha said Devi’s foot was so infected that if he wasn’t treated, the infection might have spread to the bone and lead to the need for amputation. She accompanied Devi to Battambang Hospital where he was treated for free.
CCT Social Worker Kan had on multiple occasions spoken with Devi and his family in an effort to create alternatives to begging and support him to go to school.
“If we support a child beggar or trash collector to get an education, but their family doesn’t support the decision, there is a high chance the child will continue to work on the streets.”
It can be incredibly hard for people who have only known a life on the streets, begging and sometimes battling addiction, to take steps toward another way of living. This was the case with Devi’s parents who would not allow him to get support from CCT.
When families are not willing to work with CCT to seek solutions, support can not be imposed. Still, once families at-risk, like Devi’s, have been identified, Social Workers can continue to monitor their situation and intervene in times of crisis.
Where in-depth case management is not possible, medical and street outreach offer a lifeline to vulnerable children and families, and can make a huge difference, like Devi’s story shows.
*Name changed to protect privacy