Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth

by Youth Star Cambodia
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Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth
Fund 10 Cambodian graduates to educate rural youth

Dear friends of Youth Star,

 

I am pleased to send you the final report of the Youth Star campaign “Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community”which is currently coming to a closure.  At the same time I would like to thank you for your support of Youth Star and its activities over the last few years.

Your generous gifts will have an enduring impact on Cambodia's youth.

 

Youth Star is of course continuing to recruit graduate volunteers to work in resource poor communities, particularly to help vulnerable children to stay in and to succeed in school.

Our work also remains focused on improving the quality of life and job prospects for the youth in these communities. If you would like to continue to follow Youth Star's activities, please visit ourwebsite—www.youthstarcambodia.org — or our Facebook page <https://www.facebook.com/YouthStarCambodia/> .

 

On a personal note, I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that I will soon be rejoining my family in Australia and I will be turning over the reins of Youth Star to my able colleague Mr. LUY Tech Chheng on May 31, 2016.  I am confident that the collaboration between Youth Star and Global Giving with continue to grow under his stewardship.

 

May I wish you all the best.

Mora

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Village children attend a Youth Star class
Village children attend a Youth Star class

My recent progress reports have talked about the transforming work of our current group of 25 Youth Star volunteers in educating children and youth in remote rural Cambodian communities. My most recent report described Mr. CHHEOUN Tola's different pathway to becoming a Youth Star volunteer in the Preah Domrei commune and how his enthusiastic approach is changing the lives of people in that community. 

This report focuses on the benefits of working together and how our partnerships with non-government organisations - and members of the communities in which we work - have enabled us to achieve more than we ever could on our own.

Since August 2015 we have worked closely with Aide et Action, who is also helping fund some of our activities. Our monitoring and evaluation of our work in Kampong Thom province shows this collaboration has helped us:

  • run maths, Khmer and English lessons for 1,650 children (on average each volunteer spends 4 hours a day on these lessons)
  • run seven school enrolment campaigns with over 2,800 participants; including children, students, teachers, monks, local authorities and parents—a particular focus of our work with Aide et Action is to encourage 'out-of-school children' to return to school
  • establish 10 youth and children’s clubs.

(These statistics are separate from our other Youth Star work and involve the work of 10 of our current cohort of volunteers.)

Just as Youth Star brings skills and different approaches to rural Cambodian communities, we are also continually learning better approaches and strategies from our partners to help us improve the delivery of our programs.

Aide et Action has provided training to our volunteers to help them identify 'out of school children'. This training also examines the reasons why these children do not attend classes and provides practical strategies to get them to attend school. Aide et Action has delivered or sponsored educational programs in many poor nations so we have a lot to learn from its experience.

A key strategy is working with parents to demonstrate to them how education can change their children's lives. Due to the social upheaval of recent Cambodian history and general rural poverty many of these parents will not have received any education or only minimal tuition. Because of their own experiences these parents will often not understand how pulling their child out of school harms their child’s future work prospects.

Simply having Youth Star volunteers living and working in their community provides parents with a different perspective on their child's future prospects. Many community members will never have met a university graduate and their interaction with our volunteers, who regularly visit the homes of all out-of-school children in their community, enables them to ask questions and receive information they would otherwise not obtain. Our volunteers provide much needed role models in these communities.

Aide et Action is helping support 10 of our current group of volunteers in Kampong Thom province and also provides some educational materials to assist the running of our children's and youth clubs. These clubs, which form the hub of our educational program, demonstrate the power of collaboration. Youth Star volunteers organise training from educational authorities for club members in how to run lessons for other village children - the club members are sometimes referred to as 'small teachers'. Club members learn how to set up group reading sessions, how to manage a classroom and the four different stages in developing the reading skills of out-of-school children and slow learners. They also learn how to maintain and operate our mobile school libraries. 

Establishing partnerships and ongoing networks is the key to the success of our programs. Even our Youth Star alumni have their own network which regularly meets to promote the benefits of our volunteering and our self-help approach. And of course the cycle goes on - we are currently recruiting our next batch of 10 volunteers to commence early in 2016.

I hope that you and your families enjoy this period of general celebration and relaxation, and I wish you all the best for 2016. I hope you continue to support Youth Star and our work — and if you are looking for a last-minute present to give at Christmas please consider a donation to Youth Star!

As always, if you would like any further detail on Youth Star’s programs and activities please send me an email at mora@youthstarcambodia.org.

20 of Youth Star's current volunteers
20 of Youth Star's current volunteers
Local children visit Youth Star volunteer Sopheak
Local children visit Youth Star volunteer Sopheak
Youth Star working in an improvised classroom
Youth Star working in an improvised classroom

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Some of our 2015 students cool off
Some of our 2015 students cool off

It is a pleasure to update you on the progress we are making at Youth Star with your support. There has been so much happening at Youth Star in recent months that I’m not quite sure where to start!

We currently have 25 volunteer graduates out in the field in marginalised rural Cambodian communities. This is the largest number of volunteers we have placed at one time since 2010. It is wonderful that our program is expanding to help more communities, but looking after so many volunteers in so many locations can be very challenging.

We have employed an additional program officer to help us assist our volunteers, which involves the supervisor regularly liaising with the ‘local partner‘ in each community and having at least weekly (and often daily) contact with the volunteers themselves. We take our duty of care for our volunteers very seriously and also provide a 24 hour emergency hotline. And as you can see from the photograph accompanying this report, simply transporting the volunteers’ bicycles to the provinces can be challenging!

No Youth Star volunteer is placed in a rural community unless there has been a thorough assessment of that community’s educational needs, as well as its willingness and capability to provide support for our volunteers, including accommodation. Each community also provides the ‘local partner’ mentioned above, who participates in the Youth Star volunteer training program.

A lot of my time and that of other Youth Star staff in the past months has been visiting prospective communities to make these community assessments. While this assessment work can be demanding, it is work I very much enjoy. It is also so rewarding to visit these communities 12 months later when the volunteer placements have been completed, to see how they have thrived and developed self-help programs.

While we are very busy at Youth Star I think that our morale as an organisation has never been better. Everyone at Youth Star wants to improve Cambodian society and help raise literacy and numeracy standards in rural communities. With so much activity and such enthusiasm from our new volunteers we all feel we are making a real impact.

Another activity that has been keeping Youth Star particularly busy has been establishing a new partnership with the International NGO Aide et Action, who will be assisting us in establishing literacy and associated development projects in rural Cambodia. I will provide more news about this in a future project report.

As always, if you would like any further detail on Youth Star’s programs and activities please send me an email at mora@youthstarcambodia.org

Loading bicycles for volunteers in Kampong Thom
Loading bicycles for volunteers in Kampong Thom
Youth Star volunteer locations August 2015
Youth Star volunteer locations August 2015
Volunteer Mr Vicheka in Prey Veng province
Volunteer Mr Vicheka in Prey Veng province
Some of Mr Vicheka's students in 2015
Some of Mr Vicheka's students in 2015
Ms Sophearum with children in Prey Veng province
Ms Sophearum with children in Prey Veng province

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The First Lady presents about 'Let Girls Learn'
The First Lady presents about 'Let Girls Learn'

On 21 March 2015 Youth Star volunteer, Ms UTH Sithea, represented Youth Star at a Peace Corps workshop in Siem Reap attended by the First Lady, Mrs Michelle Obama. The First Lady promoted her ‘Let Girls Learn’ initiative during the workshop and emphasised the importance of working with communities to achieve positive change:

real, meaningful change in communities doesn’t happen from the top down, it happens from the ground up. It happens when you build on the strengths that already exist in those communities. It happens when you empower the leaders that are already there, and then they go on to empower others.

The First Lady emphasised the transformative work of the Peace Corps volunteers:

So what you all should understand is that the spirit of service that you all share, it’s contagious. It truly is. When you inspire the people you serve, they go on to inspire other people.

Ms Sithea participated in a panel session at the workshop where she discussed Youth Star’s experience and approach in working together with local communities to deliver educational and other programs in rural Cambodian provinces. Youth Star has now been delivering these programs for almost 10 years.

A White House fact sheet states that a key part of the ‘Let Girls Learn’ initiative ‘will be to encourage and support community-led solutions to reduce barriers that prevent adolescent girls from completing their education’. It quotes a World Bank Study which found ‘that every year of secondary school education is correlated with an 18 percent increase in a girl’s future earning power’. A Peace Corps program is commencing in 2015 in 11 countries, including Cambodia, which will empower ‘local leaders to put lasting solutions in place’.

Youth Star enthusiastically supports this initiative, which mirrors in so many ways our own approach and grassroots work in advancing educational opportunities in marginalised Cambodian rural communities. As reported through Globalgiving on 12 May 2014, among her many other activities every Sunday morning Ms Sithea organised youth club members in Krang Veaeng village to tutor primary school students who need learning assistance. This was just one of the many educational programs undertaken by Ms Sithea during her 12 month placement as a Youth Star volunteer in 2014. All Youth Star’s volunteers in 2014 initiated similar programs.

In close harmony with the approach advocated by the First Lady, Youth Star’s long established practice is to engage with local leaders, children and youth to develop educational programs that meet the needs of the community. This includes an audit of every household in the village to determine the educational standards of the village children, identify any cases of school non-attendance and areas of particular need. The value of education is strongly promoted by Youth Star volunteers and as university graduates they provide direct examples of the benefits education provides.

While all village children and benefit from Youth Star’s programs, girls are particular beneficiaries, as the rates of school attendance and educational achievements for girls are generally lower than for boys—particularly for girls in rural communities.

During 2015 Youth Star volunteers will focus even more on delivering educational programs. In February 2015 the Youth Star vision statement was refined to state as follows:

Our vision is that all young Cambodians will:

  • have the education and tools to participate meaningfully in the development of their country;
  • possess the values, skills, and inspiration to be leaders for the common good, and;
  • contribute to eradicating illiteracy and poverty in marginalized communities.

We have already placed some volunteers in the field in March 2015 and are aiming to significantly expand the number of our volunteers later in 2015. We are also working hard to attract more female volunteers like Ms Sithea.

Ms Sithea was invited to attend the Peace Corps workshop in Siem Reap by the US Embassy staff in Cambodia coordinating the First Lady’s visit. A full copy of Mrs Obama’s speech at the workshop is here. Youth Star is very appreciative of the opportunity given to Ms Sithea to share her volunteering experiences and describe the Youth Star philosophy and ‘youth working with youth’ approach.

If you would like any further detail on Youth Star’s programs and activities in 2015 please send me an email at mora@youthstarcambodia.org. I’m always happy to hear from friends and supporters of Youth Star. You can also obtain information on what we have been up to from our Facebook page and our website. And thank you very much again for your kind support to the Youth Star Program.

Ms UTH Sithea and First Lady at Siem Reap workshop
Ms UTH Sithea and First Lady at Siem Reap workshop

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Organization Information

Youth Star Cambodia

Location: Phnom Penh - Cambodia
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Mora Gibbings
Project Leader:
Mora Gibbings
Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh Cambodia

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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