M’Lop Tapang is a non-profit organisation that has been working with the street children of Sihanoukville, Cambodia since 2003. Today it works with over 4000 children and their families at 10 centres in the Sihanoukville area to provide street children access to the learning tools, resources, and opportunities they need to build a better future. It offers regular meals, shelter, medical care, sports and arts, education, training and protection from all types of abuse.
For more than eight years, The Sovereign Art Foundation has partnered with M’Lop Tapang and has given thousands of Cambodian children and youth the opportunity to try something new and to cultivate their own unique talents. Through programs that include dance, music, acrobatic and circus acts, as well as painting and drawing classes, these children have the chance to express themselves creatively. Perhaps most importantly, these programs allow former street kids just to have fun; something that is a rarity in most of their lives.
Regular, lively and colourful arts events are held at M’Lop Tapang with performances by the children and teenagers in the programs. The local community is encouraged to attend and admission is free. These events have not only helped build up confidence and self-esteem within the children, but they have also helped break down stereotypes by showing the community just how talented these children can be, if given the chance.
Different art forms are amazing therapy for children who have gone or are going through abuse, neglect, family problems and other traumatic events. Art allows the children to express themselves in their own way, at their own pace and in a way in which they feel in total control. As well as allowing them to share their feelings, art allows even the most timid or troubled child to build confidence and self-esteem. The skills and confidence students gain from SAF’s M’Lop Tapang arts program has transformed former drug using street children in to circus trainers and homeless children into proud unicyclists or dancers performing shows to governmental and international visitors.
In 2013, M’Lop Tapang expanded its arts program by introducing dance as part of its vocational training program. Young people are learning professional skills that they can use as a safe form of income generation. Over 400 students a month are now enjoying and benefiting from having creativity and arts in their daily lives.
To find out more about M’Lop Tapang, click here.