The Kingdom of Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy, operating as a parliamentary representative democracy. During the 1970s and 1980s Cambodia became involved in a series of violent conflicts. One ongoing consequence of this period is the unexploded land mines left behind in rural areas. Hundreds of people per year are severely injured and killed.
Cambodia's per capita income is rapidly increasing but is low compared to other countries in the region. The quality of health in Cambodia is rising.
Although there have been significant improvements within the education system in Cambodia, in 2004 only 20% of graduates from universities were female. In rural communities, Cambodian women are generally susceptible to domestic violence, and in practice have little legal recourse. Due to limited women's education, some Cambodian women are unable to protect themselves from discrimination, gender inequality, violence, and abuse. They are not aware of their legal rights, and are also ignorant of global human rights standards.
In 1996 Bishop Ramousse of Phnom Penh visited the Good Shepherd Sisters and told them that the Government of Cambodia (Ministry of Social Services – Women’s Affairs and Children’s Affairs) had requested that the Catholic Church assist the women and girls involved in prostitution. Bishop Ramousse invited the Good Shepherd Sisters to do this ministry. On 8 July 2006 Good Shepherd Sisters arrived in Sihanouville, a tourist resort in Cambodia.
The history of Cambodia is terrible. The country is recovering from 30 years of civil war, including four years of terror with genocidal dimensions. The human cost from these years in terms of mental trauma is not easy to estimate but is surely a factor in current child rearing practices and the cruelty that women, girls and children can be exposed to.
Trafficking especially in women and children is increasing. Rapidly increasing HIV/AIDS infections among Cambodians is catching the people unaware of the dangers of this disease.
Responding to these needs the Good Shepherd sisters and staff run a development centre, teach in the bars, work in the prison, conduct education programmes highlighting the evils of trafficking in people and in drugs and provide health education.
The Fountain of Life Center is a day center to support the children of families suffering disadvantage.