As Cambodia is developing and recovering from the years of destruction due to the Khmer Rouge time and the civil war, there are many foreign and domestic organizations that have been instrumental in making positive changes in the socio-economic condition in the country. These Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) were able to help in ways that allow private donations/funding to have direct impact on their target group of people to help without getting the funds being diverted to potentially corrupt government officials like typically happening in developing countries. The NGOs have different missions, and many encourage foreign visitors coming to Cambodia to help further their missions by either donating, volunteering, or purchasing products or services while the visitors come and visit Cambodia. Some travel guidebooks I read even suggested that doing these would be a better way to help making positive impact to combat poverty in Cambodia rather than giving money to beggars you meet on the street.
One of the NGOs based out of Phnom Penh is an organization called Mith Samlanh (or ‘Friends’ in English). This organization’s mission is to help the Cambodian street children and their families to be independent and be productive members of the society by providing them with education, training, and medical care. They have outreach programs and several businesses that serve as training grounds for the street children. Two of them are restaurants that consistently show up on the list among the best restaurants in Phnom Penh, Friends Restaurant and Romdeng Restaurant. At both places, the street children are given training and experience in the hospitality industry — basically you have restaurants staffed by trainees, and the proceeds from the sales also go towards the program. So, as a guest, when you eat there, not only you would be able to enjoy delicious meal, but you also help support the program that contribute in positive way to local society. We decided to eat dinner at Romdeng on our last night in Phnom Penh.
The photo below was taken as we wrapped up our dinner at Romdeng. Before we left, we were asked to fill out a feedback form to rate our dining experience. It was not a normal way to finish a dining experience, but knowing the importance of the program, I gladly filled out the form and provide the feedback for the excellent experience we had there.