Green Gecko has ALWAYS supported and included the 32 families of the Gecko children, it has been an integral part of our holistic program. In the beginning years Gecko Outreach helped our mums and dads break the cycle of poverty through many different programs and forms of education, as well as providing weekly nutrition packs of fresh meat, veggies and rice and essential medical care. In 2015 it was determined at our Sustainable Families Forum - run by the kids - that this level of support would be reduced bit by bit every year until all the families would be successfully independent by 2019. This timeline created by our young adults gave us time to ensure that all difficulties are smoothed over and that the hard work that our families and staff have been doing leading up to this moment has had an impact. Not only did their plan work, it was achieved two years ahead of schedule!
UNICEF's definition of an orphan is "a child who has lost one or both parents" while The World Bank defines a "social orphan" as a "child with parents who are no longer fulfilling any of their parental duties", which was the case for each and every one of the Green Gecko children back in the early days. However, with a lot of hard work and dedication over many years, Green Gecko has now successfully reintegrated 100% of the Geckos with their families and into community living arrangements. It took a solid 10 years of working intensively with the families - weekly visits, family fun days, counselling, micro business, vocational training and employment opportunities, educational programs in health and hygiene, positive parenting, domestic violence, financial literacy and more - to get to this stage. To force the children to go back prematurely - without these long term support initiatives - would simply have been negligent and dangerous. We strongly believe that the long term success of each child is very much reliant on having long term solutions for their families. We are extremely proud of our success rate at reconnecting and reintegrating our children/young adults with their families.
Whilst Siem Reap has a long way to go coping with the many social welfare needs of the local community, we have some amazing organisations and resources that we can access to engage our families in strategies and solutions to improve their independence and sustainability. Working with the Women's Resource Centre in providing our parents with workshops on positive parenting skills, marriage laws and financial literacy has been integral to our social outreach goals. Other local organisations also give us important assistance in helping our families with education and support such as: Marie Stopes (Family Planning Support); Penhjet Counselling Services (Mental Health Support); APTBY Community Space (LGBTQ+ Support).
In 2015 the children led a Sustainable Families Forum. They invited every parent along to explain their long term goals of making sure their families were completely self sufficient in the future. They explained that the current level of Gecko support would be reduced bit by bit every year until all the families would be successfully independent by the end of 2019. This timeline created by our young adults gave us time to ensure that all difficulties are smoothed over and that the hard work that our families and staff have been doing leading up to this moment has had an impact. Not only was there goal achieved, it was achieved two years ahead of schedule!
Building on already implemented strategies and solutions to improve their independence and sustainability, Gecko introduced Khmer literacy lessons for our Gecko mothers to build confidence levels further, open employment opportunities, and importantly, improve communication and understanding within the family & ultimately the wider community.
From the very beginning, sustainable employment for our parents has always been recognised as a key to breaking the poverty cycle and, in turn, building a successful, strong family unit. And so, the past 10+ years we have worked intensively with the families providing vocational training, skills development and developing micro business & other employment opportunities which see our parents now working in safe, respectful employment for the first times in their lives.