The first of Sovann Komar Outreach Program for Education’s projects has almost come to fruition! Back in September 2015 I published a blog called SKOPE – Helmet and Road Safety Project and now, five months later, we’re about to order our helmets.
The project basically does what it says on the tin: highlights road safety and provides helmets for the children at Sovann Komar. I had initially planned to buy helmets for all 67 of the children living in the village in addition to their foster parents and the nannies. However, when it comes down to logistics, there is never a time when all the family are out on the motos. If they are all going somewhere together, they’ll take a car. So in order for the money fundraised and donated to go as far as possible, we are going to be providing each house with three or four helmets which can then be shared amongst the children.
Road traffic accidents kill 500 children every day throughout the world and six people die on Cambodian roads each day too. Collisions are all too common here: I myself have seen two accidents this week. It has somehow, worryingly, become an accepted part of life. Whilst I cannot singlehandedly make the roads safer, I can attempt to protect the children associated with Sovann Komar by providing helmets and this is what SKOPE is going to do.
Choosing the helmet brand was particularly important to me. I saw an advert for helmets outside a supermarket a few weeks ago boasting helmets for children for $1.25. Predictably, they were the flimsiest pieces of plastic I have ever handled and SKOPE is not going to be cutting costs when it comes to child safety. In fact, we’re going to order our helmets from Vietnam. The Asia Injury Prevention NGO works with US chaired company Protec to make US quality motorbike helmets. Today, I went to meet AIP and Protec representatives in Phnom Penh to see their products and speak to them about ordering in bulk for SKOPE.
Helmets need to be sturdy, secure and protective. As soon as I felt the quality of the Protec helmet and the rigidity of the structure, I knew they were far better quality than anything else I have seen in Cambodia. They come in four different sizes which means each child will be able to use a well-fitted helmet and we are going to get the SKOPE logo on each one to advertise our project. Our first task is to fit all the children at Sovann Komar Children’s Village for the right sized helmet and then order them. As soon as this is done I will set about working on getting as many helmets as possible for the children enrolled in Sovann Komar School too. If you would like to donate, please visit our Crowdfunder page. Yesterday I spent some time outside our school filming children arriving and leaving to create a video highlighting how urgent this project really is. Please click here to watch my creation.
Every time a child climbs onto the back of a moto without a helmet they are risking their lives. A helmet reduces the risk of death by 42% and the risk of a serious injury by 69%. Wearing one is a no-brainer. No pun intended.
Within a few weeks, every child living in Sovann Komar will have to wear a helmet when they leave the village boundary. If they don’t, they will pay a 50 cent fine (2000 riel). The roads will still be dangerous but at least the children, families and SKOPE are be taking steps to protect these wonderful smiling faces.