Help Give Cambodian Young Adults Independence

by HOPE-Harnessing Opportunity through Play and Education
Help Give Cambodian Young Adults Independence
Help Give Cambodian Young Adults Independence
Help Give Cambodian Young Adults Independence
Help Give Cambodian Young Adults Independence
Help Give Cambodian Young Adults Independence
Help Give Cambodian Young Adults Independence
Help Give Cambodian Young Adults Independence
Help Give Cambodian Young Adults Independence
Help Give Cambodian Young Adults Independence
Help Give Cambodian Young Adults Independence
Help Give Cambodian Young Adults Independence
Help Give Cambodian Young Adults Independence
Help Give Cambodian Young Adults Independence
Help Give Cambodian Young Adults Independence

Did you know Cambodia operates with two currencies……….interchangeably. The US dollar and Cambodian Riel – there is typically 4,000 Riel to one dollar so if you were buying a drink priced at $1.5 you can actually pay with one dollar note and 2,000 Riel and no one would bat an eye.  If you handed over a $5 note you would receive $3 and 2,000 Riel in change.  It takes a while to get used to it!

Unfortunately for us as a UK charity, the impact of Brexit saw the value of the pound against the US Dollar drop significantly and all UK charities doing work overseas where the dollar is king will be facing this challenge.  This is not new to us, when we first set up HOPE the rate was almost as high as £1 got us $2, but for some time now it has been hovering around $1.5 and following Brexit this fell as low as $1.25.

On the morning of the Brexit result HOPE trustees were due to have a Skype call with the director of the Sangkheum Centre over in Cambodia, but like most of the country we were glued to the news and postponed our call by a few hours.  At least the news from Cambodia was all good, the young adults in the programme continue to prosper, some are about to start new terms at school or university and there are a new group of teenagers preparing to move out into independent accommodation in September/October.  This preparation is vital and the core of the programme HOPE supports.

We are always very careful how we allocate our resources but as you can tell we have to try even harder now.  Your help is always appreciated now more than ever, thank you.

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Group picture at Le Meridien
Group picture at Le Meridien

This report comes directly from the Life Skills Instructor, HOPE supports to provide the skills and contacts to enable young adults in Cambodia to get "work ready".

On May 30th, 2016, Life skills students have been to an international five star hotel called Le Meridien which is located in the center of the city. They have been presented and demonstrated about hotel industry as well as useful experiences from expert presenter plus with walking around other departments in order to allow our students to see real working process. During presenting, students are able to ask many questions related to self-development and hotel task so they can consider this as a future career.

There are our following activities that they were captured during visit.

* After we had just arrived the hotel, we were really welcomed from hotel representative, Mr Sokchea. He is the only one who presented about Le Meridien hotel to our students. Students are able to ask any questions if they would like to know more about hotel industry.

* Hotel representative guided our students around the hotel and told them about different function in the hotel.

* Students were asking to Mr. Sokchea during his taking around.

* Finally, I would like to say thank you very much in the term of the life skills students for ongoing suppport our young adult project from Harnessing Opportunities through Play and Education.   We have many more students who would be happy to join the programme if we can get the funding.  We appreciate your help

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Life Skills students visit local hotel
Life Skills students visit local hotel

HOPE supports several local organisations to run Young Adult Programmes, sharing knowledge, materials and resoruces across them all.

One local organisation is Salariin Kampuchea’s who run a Life Skills programme aimed at providing students with a variety of life skills. One key objective of the programme is to introduce the students to various ideas for making a living in the future. Visiting a sample of local businesses is crucial and a valuable experience to show the students the jobs that are available and give them access to opportunities.

Here’s a report from Mr Morn Tep, Life Skills Teacher at Salariin Kampuchea, on a recent visit to a local five-star hotel in Siem Reap.

On February 19th 2016, fourth-generation life skills students and I have been to one of the local five star hotels, Pacific, in Siem Reap city.

We were warmly welcomed by the management teams at Pacific hotel with a large group of thirty two students. It was a great honour to inform them about life skills program on behalf of Salariin Kampuchea organization. We were also highly-respected and introduced to various departments at the Pacific hotel. Moreover, students were really interested in presenting from hotel industry. They seem to realize more things related to hotel industry and discovered experiences how to be staff in the hotel.

All students were warmly welcomed by Pacific hotel, Human Resource.  Students were given a tour of the hotel and have been told about front desk, restaurant, housekeeping departments and other services in the hotel. They ask many questions related to hotel industry ; how to be a good staff in the hotel, how to apply to work for the hotel, how to train to be a staff in the hotel.

Our group took photos with the smart uniforms at the end of the visit. They are all really well-organized and ready to go on their second visit to a huge hotel with notebooks and other materials for making notes of their visit. 

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Sophal, now 25, grew up in stark poverty and was forced to sell flowers to tourists when she was young (and cute!). 

With huge help and support from Anjali House and in particular their Young Adult Programme that H.O.P.E helped to establish and supported, Sophal was equipped with the confidence and life skills to grab the great opporuntity to work with HALO trust (a demining organisation - see below and link).  And today she earns a good wage to support herself and her family.  We are so so very proud of her. 

Her video will take just a few minutes to watch but will show you just how much good your support does.  We would welcome any donation big or small to help more young Cambodians like Sophal become independent. 

As an aside, people are usually surprised to learn that Northern Cambodia was littered with landmines, during the Vietnamese war. HALO’s second programme started in Cambodia in 1991, when HALO was asked by UNHCR to conduct a mines survey ahead of the planned repatriation of over 600,000 refugees from the Thai border camps. This programme quickly developed into full mineclearance, and 21 years later HALO has over 1,100 demining staff and has cleared well over 200,000 mines from across the north-west provinces.  Helping Sophal we have also indirectly helped the progress of HALO's amazing work.


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One thing we learnt very quickly when we volunteered and worked in Cambodia in 2006/2007, is things change - some change rapidly, and some change very very slowly.  The new NGO law has taken its time to be shaped and moulded to fit the current affairs of Cambodia, and despite much anticipation there are still many that are not happy with the new proposals and in this case one size does not fit all.

As a non-political charity we won’t comment on the current situation of the law, but will discuss how the new proposal assists in what HOPE have tried to achieve since registering as a charity back in 2008. We recognised very early on that there was a lot of help (sometimes misguided) for younger children and the support of orphanages and children centres, many of which have been purported as ‘fake’ and ‘bogus’. Therefore we took the stance to help the young adults, who no longer fit the requirements of staying in an orphanage, to stand on their own two feet and to support themselves.

The new NGO law is promoting that many of the bogus children centres be stamped out and original care re-instated back to living with extended family or community members. There is much positive work steering communities to support children who have previously been sent to live away from home.

Hopefully, this will give the children the opportunity to create stronger family ties and community connections and remain in the family fold. By finding their roots there hopes to be a natural progression for them to work on the family farm or be an apprentice in their uncle’s garage or Auntie’s dress shop and if their education allows and if support is there for them to take further opportunities to move to the bigger cities for work or further education.

Over the years, we have seen first-hand how difficult it has been for the young adults who have left institutions to survive independently, despite help in furthering their education, finding vocational training and providing shelter.

Sangkheum Center for Children have highlighted the need to re-integrate some of their children back into their own communities and continued their support for young adults in the transitional stages to be self-sufficient, their work has been ground breaking, and their journey continues.

Sangkheum started this journey a few years back re-evaluating their current model and to make serious changes to their operation, and only now are we seeing the success of their work. This doesn’t mean that their work is finished and we are still in urgent needs of funds to help them carry out this important work.

Please do help support us to help them and other NGO’s on the ground in Siem Reap to give young adults the right tools to start an independent life.

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HOPE-Harnessing Opportunity through Play and Education

Location: London - United Kingdom
Tanya Seeley
Project Leader:
Tanya Seeley
London, United Kingdom

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