Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS), meaning “the brightness of art”, originated in 1986 in Site 2 Refugee Camp on the Thai border. The idea of a creative association, which would use art and expression to help young refugees overcome the trauma of war, emerged from drawing workshops held for children in the camps. This original idea continued after the refugees returned to their homeland, and PPS was formally founded in 1994 by a group of former Site 2 children.
Phare Ponleu Selpak is a Cambodian non governmental organisation. It aims to support community development through providing social, educative and cultural services to children and their families. Phare Ponleu Selpak implements a global approach aiming to answer children’s individual needs to ensure each child’s is able access their rights. Each child is unique and requires specific action tailored to their needs.
Phare Ponleu Selpak’s action is centered around artistic practice. Arts are used not only as a tool to foster expression, but also as a complete set of tools aimed at answering children’s psycho-social needs. This includes education, life skills, social skills and personal development. Following the years of war and the destructive Khmer Rouge Regime, Cambodian culture was seriously damaged. Artistic practice is then a means to allow the population to rediscover and reclaim their cultural practices and knowledge, allowing them to rebuild their identity.
PPS’ social action involves 30 children who are hosted within the compound in the Child Care Centre and 46 more supported while staying with their families in their communities. These children face some deep social issues; they are victims of child trafficking, domestic violence, abandonment, disease, extreme poverty, and street begging. All the children benefit from a nutrition program (three meals a day), medical support (medical primary care, medical referral, medical charges), education support (schooling support, school material, school follow-up, non formal education), as well as from cultural and artistic activities (three art schools and a leisure centre).
Furthermore, 150 children daily are welcomed in the leisure centre to enjoy educative, cultural, artistic and leisure activities. 75 children a day also have free access to books and games in the library.
Regarding formal education, PPS supports the public school built within its compound through teacher training and through additional salaries in order to ensure free quality education for all. 1250 children attend the public school, which enjoys a partnership with the leisure centre. This allows the development of classes, which have a more participative approach. The school is also supported by the library which ensures the availability of adapted material to complement the children’s learning.
The three artistic schools form the core of PPS’ work in the community. The Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has acknowledged PPS artistic schools’ to be “Western Cambodia’s Cultural Pole”. These three schools, open to all and free of charge, are used by 450 children either for leisure activities or as vocational training. These three schools are:
Visual Arts school: drawing, painting and sculpture but also animation cartoon, design, illustration and editing.
Performing Arts school: divided into a Circus Arts section and a Theatre programme.
Music school: produces both traditional and modern music.
These three schools come together to form a valuable asset to the surrounding communities, providing education, support and entertainment.
Phare Ponleu Selpak
P.O Box 316
Tel: +855 (0) 53 952 424
Tel: +855 (0) 12 890 360