Hart Fellow Leila Dal Santo Published in Better Care Network

Leila Dal Santo returned from her Hart Fellowship in Battambang, Cambodia in May 2012. In collaboration with her community partner, the Khmer Center for Development (KCD), she published a study in the Better Care Network titled “Explaining the Continued Presence of Orphanages in Battambang Province.”

There are an estimated 630,000 orphans in Cambodia, 12,000 of whom currently reside in orphanages. A 2011 UNICEF report revealed that a majority of the 12,000 children in Cambodia’s orphanages have one living parent. Furthermore, the number of children in care has more than doubled in five years. In Cambodia’s northwest province of Battambang, the number of orphanages has more than quadrupled from 11 to 45 over the last decade. Over the course of her ten-month fellowship, Leila conducted qualitative interviews with orphanage directors and caregivers in order to understand the reasons underlying the recent rapid expansion of orphanages in the region. She found that some of these institutions strongly resemble boarding schools, where the primary goal is to provide the best possible primary and secondary education for vulnerable communities. Children who come to live in these institutions maintain a close relationship with their families and communities.

Leila’s research has been instrumental in uncovering the realities of orphanage care in Battambang, Cambodia. Please click here to view a summary or read the full report.

Leila was supported by her faculty member, Kathryn Whetten, who is the director of the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research (CHPIR) as well as Professor of Public Policy, Global Health, Nursing and Community and Family Medicine at Duke University.