Thomas Leonard '13 (right) in Cambodia with CCPCR program manager Sek Sophal.
Aiding Child Welfare in Cambodia
Political science major Thomas Leonard ’13 has always been interested in social welfare and human rights. His summer internship, sponsored by Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, promises to provide him with the opportunity to explore these interests in a very real setting. Leonard is working with the Cambodian Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights (CCPCR) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city.
The CCPCR runs shelters for rescued children as well as transit centers for children who have been returned after being trafficked out of the country for labor. A large part of the Center’s goals are to gradually reintegrate these children into their communities. To aid that work they have monitoring committees—composed of teachers, local authorities and CCPCR staff— that make sure the children are cared for and in school.
Leonard is spending much of his time working in the CCPCR’s main office, coordinating with the director and the program manager. He is helping to produce and edit reports that are sent to donors as well as collecting monthly survey results and compiling data that is sent from the other five Cambodian provinces.
Beyond the office, Leonard had the opportunity to travel with the program manager, Sek Sophal. They visited Poipet, a city along the Thai-Cambodian border, in the Banteay Meanchey province. “Cities [along the Cambodian border] are hubs for human trafficking and thousands of children are forced over the border into Thailand or Vietnam in search of work each year,” Leonard explains. While there, Leonard sat in on meetings with local leaders, including the vice-governor of the province and high-ranking officials from the army, police and immigration. The focus was improving and implementing the child protection laws that are already in place, particularly those relating to illegal migration.
“It was a really rewarding experience” says Leonard, “to see how invested the respective provincial governments were in the fight against child trafficking and child labor.”
—Erin Adaline Seglem ’14