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Since 1958, the history of Enfants du Mékong has been intertwined with the history of the people of Asia.
René Péchard, a dentist in Vientiane, founded the Association of Friends of the Academy of Saint-Joseph, which subsequently became Association for the Protection of Youth of Laos. The goal was to support orphans. The calls for donations, especially from French dentists, helped set up an “education scholarship” for children as well as a support scholarship for the “poorest children”.
In 1964, the group opened its first shelter in Vientiane, followed by others that welcomed Laotian, Vietnamese and Eurasian orphans or children from very poor families. Some had the opportunity to study in France and were hosted by French families. In 1968, René Péchard founded the Association for the Protection of Youth – France. This group helped strengthen the system of sponsorship: French sponsors were able to help children in Laos by making donations for a scholarship or hosting a student in France.
A war erupted in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, thus forcing René Péchard to give up on the shelters of Vientiane in August 1975. The refugee camp in thailand needed a huge amount of help. This is when the system of sponsorship expanded. It allowed children to buy clothes and school supplies. Schools were built and local initiatives in Thailand received funding. This system that Enfants du Mékong put together still works to this day.
The question of whether to welcome refugees to France then arose. René Péchard opened a shelter in Valence in 1977. That same year, the group was named Enfants du Mékong. In 1984, the Valence shelter was transferred to Paris and Asnières. At that time, there were 62 delegations and 131 delegates or volunteers. Their main mission was too handle the paperwork to gather the families and help them find work. Now the children were no longer coming on their own; entire families were being hosted.
In order to continue the work of René Péchard, who passed away in 1988, and to assist the refugees in returning to their home countries, the group started the first programs of sponsorship in Vietnam and in Cambodia in 1990. This was the start of the sponsorship system as it exists today. That same year, the first Bamboo missions were launched. The goal was to send 21-to-35-year-olds to provide support to impoverished populations in South-East Asia.
Also in 1990, the group was awarded the Grand Prize of Human Rights of the French Republic. In 1992, two new shelters, the Marcel Van House and the Saint-Grégoire House, opened in France to host Asian students. When Enfants du Mékong’s refugee program came to an end, there were 11,656 sponsorships and 260 programs of sponsorship in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Philippines, where Enfants du Mékong has expanded its activity since 1995.
After the disaster of the tsunami on December 26, 2004, on the coasts of South-East Asia, Enfants du Mékong took part in the rescue and reconstruction operations, benefiting from the supports of thousands of donors. The group became part of Asia Isolated Children Collective. Soon, the number of sponsors overwhelmed the capacities of the group, and this generosity was directed to thousands of children in Laos, Cambodia, Philippines and Vietnam. All in all, 5,100 children benefited from sponsorship as part of 199 new sponsorship programs across South-East Asia.
After Myanmar, where EDM started a sponsorship program in 2001, the group decided to expand its action to China. In March 2008, the first sponsorship program opened in a northwestern district of Yunnan, in the remote Tibeto-Burman region. On the anniversary of its foundation, Enfants du Mékong celebrated “50 years of sponsoring hope” and gathered numerous members of the humanitarian comunity at the UNISCO to reflect upon “Donations, an unlimited resource of humankind.” .
Enfants du mékong est une association loi 1901, de bienfaisance, habilitée à recevoir des dons et legs.
Prix des Droits de l’Homme de la République Française
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children of the mekong has been expanding for more than 50 years to indentify the needs and recognize the dignity of poor suffering children and their families that live in south east asia.
Educate, train and support children and young people, to enable them to improve their material living conditions and build themselves up, intellectually, emotionally and morally.
To respect every human being, no mater what his condition, his culture or his religion are.
Charter of ethics
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Tél : +33 1 47 91 00 84
Fax : +33 1 47 33 40 44
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