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preparing the gecko teens for life through knowledge and reflection


In four short years of Green Gecko's existence, the little kids have grown into bigger kids, and the bigger kids are now coming of age ... and to be honest, we are bracing ourselves! Many a visitor have surveyed our burgeoning group of teenagers and remarked, "It's hard enough handling one at a time - how do you cope with thirty!?"

Mind you, our teen geckos are smart enough to know which side their bread is buttered on, and they certainly know what lies on the other side of the tracks. Even with their inevitable moody moments, they don't give us too hard a time. Mostly, their marks of teen-hood are harmless fun and universally identifiable: tighter t-shirts and jeans for the girls, baggier t-shirts and jeans for the boys, longer fringes on both, girls perfecting Beyonce moves and boys their swagger.

What we are bracing ourselves for is not their external behaviour; it's what's going on inside - body, heart and mind - at an age of natural upheaval, pervaded by Western images and attitudes, constrained by cultural difficulties with talking to kids about sex. Not that it is easy anywhere, but you probably take for granted that sex education, personal development and protective behaviour is taught by qualified professionals at your child's school. This breaks the ice for when you get around to talking to your child about the birds and the bees, by which time they probably know it all, and then some!

Without the appropriate guidance, Cambodian teenagers are often left confused, uninformed or worse, misinformed, and unprepared for their journey to adulthood. As street kids, our geckos did not grow up with positive role models within their families, and need external help to break the cycle of unplanned pregnancies, prostitution, youth delinquency, sexually transmitted disease, low self-esteem and damaging relationships that eventually lead to domestic violence.

Here's the good news ... we've found, after a long search, an excellent non-government organisation that does this very job! KAROL&SETHA stands for Knowledge And Reflection On Life & Sexuality Through an Holistic Approach. It's a long name, but this is exactly what they teach, with the aim of preparing young people and couples to have responsible, happy and stable relationships by working with the whole person - body, heart and mind. Daring to break the traditional silence, true communication of needs and feelings is the program's fundamental tool. As part of the Maryknoll organisation to fight HIV/AIDS, KAROL&SETHA actively promotes knowledge of safe sex. They have accepted us into their program, and we have chosen 18 of our older geckos to attend a week-long workshop at the K&S centre in Phnom Penh, hopefully at the end of June if funds permit.

The cost of the program itself is modest, but with travel fares, accommodation and meals we will need $130US (approx. $180AU / 88GB) per child, and we are seeking sponsors.

We feel sure this is an important investment. Children are only children for a short time, then they must take responsibility for the rest of their lives as adults. This is our opportunity to begin to properly equip them - physically, emotionally, mentally - to spread their wings with positive self-assurance when it comes time to leave Green Gecko because they are ready for the world!

If you can help, please click on the following links according to your country.

:: AUSTRALIA

:: UK AND EUROPE

:: USA & the rest of the world

As always, with much love and gecko gratitude, Tania, Rem and all the Green Gecko gang, especially the Gecko teens


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