Founded in 2005 by Bowinneth Phem, a Cambodian-Dutch psychologist, the Mango Tree Garden is located on the site of the Sweet Mango Pagoda which used to be an ashram and meditation centre. MTG is a registered Cambodian NGO, which is located 25 km west of Phnom Penh. MTG runs a community-based program, with a holistic and child-centered approach, where the children are given back their childhood through creative play that is sensitive to the local culture. It is a place where children can come home to their imagination. Home is where the children play.
The MTG concept is inspired from the Butterfly Peace Garden (located in Sri Lanka), an after-school program provided to children that offers creative play activities and ethnic reconciliation, integrated with opportunities for trauma healing through art-based processes. Through story-telling, drawing, painting, drama, singing and dancing children are given the opportunity to find and to live their dreams, to express themselves and to heal their wounds. Facilitated and guided by adults the children find their place in the garden and the garden finds a place in their hearts.
The MTG team consists of qualified staff members with various backgrounds: psychologists, special-educators, drivers, and several artists. Their activities include:
- Supporting neglected, traumatized and vulnerable children from the community through creative and culturally sensitive activities;
- Counseling families when critical situations are identified;
- Giving opportunities for children to express themselves on a regular basis;
- Offering activities to children from the Damnok Toek Handicap Center (since May 2009);
- Training their own staff and staff from other NGOs in new techniques of working with children.
GEcsn has supported the Mango Tree Garden since 2011.