CWDA has been collaborating with Skateistan Cambodia since 2012. Skateistan’s mission is to use skateboarding as a tool for empowerment, to create new opportunities and the potential for change for vulnerable youth. As it’s second project after its monumental success in Afghanistan, Skateistan is now impacting the lives of many youths, including our girls, here in Cambodia.
Every Thursday without fail the girls attend a two hour session at the skateboarding park in Phnom Penh. Getting in the tuktuk on the dot of 1.30pm in order to arrive in plenty of time, they jitter with excitement. Arriving at the park, it is easy to understand why.
The sense of community and empowerment felt when walking into the skateboarding park is overwhelming. Skateboarding has become an outlet for creative expression for the girls; they have so much fun showing off their skills on the different ramps and learning new tricks! The girls are well and affectionately known here by the instructors and other students, having been some of the first students of Skateistan Cambodia.
Watching them, it is clear how much they cherish the opportunity each week. Not only does having such an unique hobby increase self-confidence, it develops trust, friendship and valuable life skills such as leadership and teamwork.
Soryah*, one of the older girls, says that skateboarding gives her the opportunity to “escape” and to relieve her stress through exercise. Meymey* loves going each week to meet up with her friends and always has so much fun.
Sokcchoeun, the safe shelter house mother, told me how proud she is of the girls, and that whenever there are competitions people remark on how they skateboard just as well as the boys!
Donations continue make this weekly opportunity possible for the girls, covering the costs of transportation each week and to skateboarding events, as well as appropriate clothing for their hobby.
Everyone at CWDA wants to thank you for your generous donations and continuing support.
*names have been changed.
We’re really pleased to report that the University Fund micro-project almost reached its full target. This means that we will be able to fund both Chhaya and Sopheak (not their real names) through their four year University Education programme, here in Phnom Penh, to study Accountancy and Management respectively. This is a really important step in helping them gain their independence and achieve their full potential. It also creates an opportunity for them to become more financially secure in the future.
They will be the first two girls from the Safe Shelter to go on from High School and access a University Education. This will hopefully pave the way for the other girls to follow, if they should wish. The younger girls in the Shelter already look up to Chhaya and Sopheak and will have lots of questions for them when they start University at the beginning of October.
Both young women are in the process of sitting their final High School Diploma exams. Their teachers describe them as bright and talented girls, who are committed to their education. They are both predicted to pass their high school diplomas; they sit their final exams in early August. Chhaya is currently doing a lot of English revision and Sopheak is focusing on her Khmer lessons.
Speaking about their hopes for the future Chhaya thinks an accountancy degree will secure her a good position in a well-established bank. She would like to move out of the city when she finishes her degree and work in a bank in her home province, so that she can be closer to her family.
When Chayya was asked how she feels about going to University, she responded, “It’s fantastic, I feel very happy, but also a bit nervous too. My family are poor and could not afford to pay for University, so I feel very lucky”.
Sopheak has already secured a part-time job to run alongside her university studies with a global NGO that teaches skateboarding skills to community groups. Sopheak is excellent at sports and excels at yoga, swimming and skateboarding. With a management degree she may be able to combine both of these skill sets. CWDA, through our on-site counselor and our vocational educational teachers, will be supporting both girls with their career decisions and any study pressures that arise as they progress through University.
CWDA, especially Chayya and Sopheak, want to thank you for all your support. The university education that you have contributed to will give these bright, ambitious young women a real opportunity to fulfill their potential. Their university education will be something they will have for their rest of their lives.
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