Social enterprise rolls out edutainment programmes against child exploitation in tourism

Campaigning against forms of donating that perpetuate exploitation

Cambodia-based social enterprise Friends International (FI) has unveiled a swathe of new products as part of its recently-launched ChildSafe Academy, including an escape room, cookery classes and craft workshops.

FI’s ChildSafe is joining the movement to educate visitors to Cambodia about responsible tourism in innovative, fun ways. For example, its escape room game based on its ChildSafe seven tips for travellers.

Campaigning against forms of donating that perpetuate exploitation

Among the seven takeaways are ones centred on how children are not tourist attractions, driving home the dangers of volunteering with youngsters why it is not right to give to begging children.

ChildSafe Escape Room is located at FI’s new Futures Factory, a huge creative space in Phnom Penh centre that is home to a range of boutiques, small eateries, an art gallery and performance space.

The escape room programme is set in a ChildSafe office, with groups of three to six players given one hour to crack a series of clues based around the tips to successfully catch an offender.

“We want to raise awareness in a fun and interactive way that makes people think about and understand more of these important issues,” said gamesmaster Sreyneang Sum. “(The escape room) is a more fun and engaging way to spread our message.”

Sum added they are working with tourism partners, including hotels and tour operators, to promote the activity. ChildSafe currently partners tour operators to host informative workshops about its work.

Other recently-launched activities include cooking and mocktail-making classes with FI’s hospitality students and craft workshops to make tote bags and other items from recycled products.

Coralie Romano, branch manager at Diethelm Travel Cambodia, welcomed FI’s new programme to the capital’s activities, saying it will appeal to families, student groups and travellers spending more than a few days in the capital.

However, she pointed out that the tours may not gain easy traction in the mass market. “The majority of our clients stay in Phnom Penh for two days and want to see the history and culture of the country.”

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