International partnership to improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable children
Since 2015 The School of Health and Society has collaborated with a non-governmental organisation in Cambodia (M’Lop Tapang) in an international partnership designed to improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable children and to support the inter-professional development of health and social care colleagues from the UK and Cambodia.
‘M’Lop’ means shade or protection in the Khmer language. The Tapang tree, also known as the umbrella tree, provides shelter from the elements. In 2003 M’Lop Tapang was co-founded by British nurse Maggie Eno MBE with support from a small group of foreigners and local Cambodian people. It began as a simple initiative to feed and offer safety to six children who slept under a large Tapang tree on the beach every night and who were extremely vulnerable to exploitation. The initiative quickly blossomed into a much wider programme. Today M’Lop Tapang’s services reach over 7,500 children, young people and families in the Sihanoukville area, Cambodia. M’Lop Tapang provides disadvantaged children and families’ access to learning tools, specialised services, resources, and the opportunities they need to build a better future. In addition, M’Lop Tapang offers regular meals, safe temporary shelter, medical care, education and training, counselling, family support / reintegration and protection from all types of abuse, and they work to increase community awareness about issues relative to children’s safety and children’s rights.
Over the past five years the CYP@Salford Research Group has worked collaboratively with M’Lop Tapang, and a registered charity in England (SicKids) to support outreach clinics in Sihanoukville, Cambodia twice per year (until the arrival of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which drastically restricted international travel), a monthly telemedicine clinic providing advice and support to the medical team at M’Lop Tapang, and a programme of research and educational support including evaluation of some of M’Lop Tapang’s programmes. Through this work we have been learning how initiatives developed in south east Asia could be adapted for use in the UK, for example the ChildSafe initiative. The University of Salford has become the first higher education institution in the world to receive Child Safe accreditation.
Through our international partnerships we have been considering seven steps to improving the protection of children and young people:
- Improve education
- Increasing employability and employment
- Decrease poverty
- Tackle neglect
- Recognise your role as a community leader
- Empower children and young people
- Build child safe communities with children and young people at their hearts
Team: Professor Andrew Rowland, Professor Tony Long, Maggie Eno MBE (external), Dr Dora Dim (external), SicKids charity, M’Lop Tapang (Cambodia)
Contact:Professor Andrew Rowland