The Kingdom’s multi-talented music sensation Princess Jenna, at a pre-event press conference, spoke of her excitement at performing at the 10th anniversary celebrations of Shanty Town Spirit, the association dedicated to transforming the lives of the capital’s most vulnerable.

Shanty Town Spirit was set up by Princess Ermine and Prince Norodom Narithipong in 2013 with the aim of improving quality of life for some of Phnom Penh’s most underprivileged communities.

At the press conference at Raffles Le Royal in the buildup to the ‘Thank You’ event on December 7 to mark Shanty Town Spirit’s 10 years of making a difference, Princess Jenna described the “happiness” it had brought as “wonderful”.

“Princess Ermine and Prince Narithipong created Shanty Town Spirit a decade ago to help the most underprivileged people living in the hardest conditions, making sure they have access to health, hygiene, education, special needs care and access to leisure activities.

“And it is indeed wonderful to see all the happiness that Shanty Town Spirit has given to its community. 

“I am so proud to be part of the 10th anniversary celebrations and look forward to performing at the ‘Thank You’ event in December,” said the popular singer, dancer, actor and influencer.

Joining Princess Jenna, the association’s ambassador, at the event were Princess Ermine and Prince Norodom Narithipong, as well as representatives of sponsors Urban Village, Eden Group, Pernod Ricard Cambodge, Halys, Legend Cinema and Raffles Le Royal.

Prince Norodom Narithipong used the occasion to thank the association’s generous and committed sponsors for their invaluable support over the years.

“We are excited to be announcing our ‘10th Anniversary Thank You’ event at the Raffles Le Royal hotel on December 7. 

“When my wife first decided to create Shanty Town Spirit many years ago, we could never have imagined how far the association would come,” said Prince Narithipong.

Dr Ben Li and Catherine Chan – founders of Urban Village and Factory Phnom Penh and proud sponsors of Shanty Town Spirit for the past six years – said the association’s vision of building the future reflected their own.

“We are so happy to see Shanty Town Spirit reach this milestone, and especially for our friend Princess Ermine as she has such a kind and sincere heart.

“As well as investing all she can physically, she is always talking about her ideas – it is so great to see these ideas come to fruition, and we look forward to many more milestones,” said Chan.

Dr Li added: “The next generation truly represent the future. And by helping to ensure that Cambodia’s youth are educated regardless of their location, Shanty Town Spirit is really shaping the future.” 

Over the past decade the association has focused on the five core areas of health, education, hygiene, leisure activities and special needs to provide a growing community of more than 300 with the basic facilities and opportunities they deserve.

One heartwarming story is that of Lockman, who due to disability was a virtual prisoner in his home, unable to enjoy the basic human requirement of interacting with his community and socialising.

But now at the age of 24, Lockman – following three successful surgeries funded by Shanty Town Spirit and ongoing physiotherapy – is able to get around in a wheelchair and is learning to walk with a frame after decades of being confined to bed. 

Princess Ermine described reaching a decade as emotional. 

“It is very emotional to be reaching this milestone as everything seems to have progressed slowly and time flies by so fast! 

“We started back in 2013 looking after only one or two children. We now care for 300 people, and not just kids, but the elderly, disabled people and those with special needs – it is now a full community.

“I would like to thank all our event partners and previous donors for their help in making this happen, with all the support received over these past 10 years truly capturing the ethos of One Spirit, One Heart, One Community,” she said.