Smile Village


The gleaming facades of Phnom Penh’s high rises are a proud testament to Cambodia’s economicboom. The country’s economy is projected to grow beyond a rate of 6% as per the World Bank reports. Beyond the glitz of the capital city’s swanky new condominiums and office buildings, more than 140,000 people endure conditions of destitution living in nearly 500 decrepit slums. Unsanitary and severely lacking even in basic amenities, these slums are perfect breeding grounds for diseases.

As Phnom Penh continues to grow, slum after slum is demolished, their inhabitants forcefully evicted under duress — any respite offered by the slums for the urban poor is all but temporary. The promise of a better life has been snatched away from the people of the slums by corporate avarice and public corruption, and as land values continue to soar, hope seems like an increasingly scarce commodity.


A residential community project founded by the French charity Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE) in collaboration with BillionBricks, Solutions to End Poverty (STEP) and URBnarc in 2012, SMILE Village accommodates 66 families from the scavengers’ community picked up from 3 provinces of Cambodia. They are provided a pucca house to live in and basic amenities required for living in a community — kindergarten, community centre, play facilities for children etc.

Currently 90 families find shelter in the village, sheltering about 500 homeless people. Dwellers are charged a nominal rent of USD 7 a month and are encouraged and guided to learn a skill or develop entrepreneurial thinking so that in about 3 years they can move out of Smile Village and live on their own. The game changing aspect is that the Smile Village team works with people to develop
their vision and works on their aspirations to motivate them to bring about change in their lives. Dwellers learn skills in various professions from sewing,Landscaping and nursery, Rug making, woodcraft and catering.


A few from our team visited the Smile village project and understood its workings. Post our visit, we facilitated the provision of a laptop to the village towards use by the project staff there.

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