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The Green Gecko Project

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the Green Gecko project

offering Siem Reap street kids a safe place to eat, wash, learn and play

The GREEN GECKO project is an initiative founded to benefit the lives of street children in Siem Reap, Cambodia. A recently emerging town located in the North West of the country, it is home to the world's largest religious site Angkor Wat and consequently, a hastily growing tourism industry.

Anyone who has spent any amount of time in the streets of Siem Reap will know these children. While most would have been hassled by their begging, only some would have had the pleasure of getting to know the kids themselves - their humor, tenacity, cunning, hope, trust and friendship.

The sad reality is that these children, as young as 5 years old, are often the primary breadwinners for their families. Their living conditions are often desperate, either living in very poor housing or no housing at all. Many of the children sleep unaccompanied on the pavement, defenseless to abduction, abuse and disease. The GREEN GECKO project is about empowering these children with skills and education to enable them to support themselves and their families in safe and suitable way. It also provides shelter, care and stability for those physically battered or psychologically in need.

At GREEN GECKO, the children can eat a hot lunch, attend an English class, feel secure, play, get a hug, put their pictures up on the wall, have a shower, get their hair combed, nails cut, brush their teeth and receive medical attention. They can attend fun excursions and receive the chance to expand their interests and knowledge of new subjects, by participating (somewhat enthusiastically) in dance, art and craft, drama, photography, gymnastics and performance classes.

One of GREEN GECKO�s vocational programs aims to combine these new skills to form CIRCUS GECKO - street performances by street kids. More than just juggling, acrobatics, make-up and costumes - it will eventually provide the children with an opportunity to earn a more favorable source of income by entertaining Siem Reap's tourists instead of pestering them in a protected, organised environment.

With CIRCUS GECKO the children can expel their abundance of energy, build their self-esteem, set goals and achieve them, work as a team, develop a multitude of skills, discover self-discipline, earn a living and ultimately have some FUN!

Anothermajor task at hand is convincing the kids' parents that letting their child off begging duties for a few hours each day, to learn a new language or even to learn to read and write their own language, is a worthwhile investment. The parents are either hungry or have addiction problems and little concept of a future beyond their immediate needs. Experience has already proved that supporting and connecting with these families is essential to the success of the project.


With this rapport in place, considerable milestones have already been achieved parent approval has significantly risen (some even actively encouraging), a homeless family has been housed, many children have joined "informal class" in preparation for public school, others have returned to public school or begun learning at a language centre, a father has kicked his glue-sniffing habit, child beatings have decreased and attendance numbers continue to rise.


The project is still in embryonic stages of development but with continued support, the future for these children and their families looks promising.

We welcome your comments and contributions. Contact Tania at


yoga time fun at the barai riaks mask


behind the GREEN GECKO name?

green adj

In Asian Colour Symbolism green represents:

  •  Eternity, family, harmony, health, peace and posterity

Green is also known to signify:

  • Life, growth, renewal, health, environment, harmony, freshness.
  • Green has strong emotional correspondence with safety and healing.
  • Green suggests stability and endurance.

gecko n

  • Geckos are the only lizards that have a voice (often very loud- just like these kids).
  • Most geckos are nocturnal; they are most active at night (so are these kids; most work til dawn).
  • Geckos hunt for their prey at night (so do these kids, the prey being intoxicated foreigners leaving the bars in the early hours of the morning).
  • When a gecko is caught by its tail, it releases the tail, allowing the gecko to escape capture (similarity is their innate ability for survival)
  • Geckos live in South East Asia (so do these kids).
  • Geckos have no parental care (neither do some of these kids).

project n

  • a task or scheme that requires a large amount of time, effort, and planning to complete
  • to make a thought or feeling seem to have an external and objective reality, especially to ascribe something personal to others



To view the full Green gecko website please go to

A big slimy gecko thank you also goes out to Paolo Picones for his support and permission to use his black and white images of the children in the streets. He captured what we couldn't. Thanks Pao.

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