Christian and Marie-France des Pallières, founders of Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (For a Child’s Smile), lived and worked in Cambodia since the beginning of their action in the country.
Each spring, for the last 20 years they criss-crossed France and neighbouring countries at the wheel of their camping car to communicate the urgency of the situation.
From the start, Christian and Marie-France surrounded themselves with a top quality Khmer team so PSE would not be dependent on them.
Until his recent death, Christian was a member of the Board, tirelessly fulfilling his role as Director in Phnom Penh. Marie-France has now joined the board to ensure compliance with the commitments to the sponsors and donors and ensures respect for the ethics of PSE, as expressed in the Charter, as she did beforehand alongside her husband.
A devastated country!
25 years of war and a terrible genocide left Cambodia shattered. Everything had been destroyed including necessary support networks and foundations. The poor lived in extreme moral, physical and material destitution.
Children are the main victims: their future was limited to scavenging on rubbish dumps or wandering the streets with all the associated dangers.
Discovering the horror
In October 1995, Christian and Marie-France des Pallières, whilst on a humanitarian mission in Cambodia, discovered the horror of the municipal rubbish dump of Phnom Penh.
There, hundreds of children lived and worked, feeding themselves on the waste.
Immediately they decided they had to do something
In spring 1996, the adventure began. A score of children were given proper meals by the dumpsite: they were housed in rented accommodations that quickly filled up with new inhabitants.
Soon hundreds, and then thousands of young scavengers were saved.
For every challenge they confronted, Christian and Marie-France des Pallières found the solution in the best interests of the children.
Now, more than 6,000 children are looked after: they are fed, provided with healthcare, educated and given vocational training. With a high quality qualification, they are able to join the workforce and integrate into society.
But there are still so many children out there to save...