Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!

by Youth Star Cambodia
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Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!
Sponsor Cambodian graduates, help their community!

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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Pharady with volunteer Chhav Sokhey in Prey Kuy
Pharady with volunteer Chhav Sokhey in Prey Kuy

Happy New Year from Youth Star! As I write this report Cambodia is caught up in celebrating the beginning of the Chinese New Year (the year of the monkey) and there is the usual mayhem and festivities on our streets. This is one of my favourite times of the year in Cambodia, with the colourful displays of lanterns, puppets and tradition of gift giving. The only part I don't like is that it takes me three times as long to travel from the Youth Star office in Phnom Penh to my home!

This report profiles our program officer and rising star Ms Kao Sokunpharady (or 'Pharady' as she is known to us), who has the important responsibility of helping support 12 volunteers out in the field. Pharady’s work history before joining Youth Star has provided an excellent background for her current activities. Her resumé includes stints with the Cambodian Ministry of Women’s Affairs (assisting vulnerable women and children); the Junior Chamber Movement; and as a project coordinator for Caring for Young Khmer, which runs a child-care program to assist the healthy development of deprived young children in impoverished Cambodian villages.

Pharady joined us in August 2015 and particularly likes visiting our volunteers out in the field, whom she coaches, supervises and mentors during their placements. She is impressed by the ‘capacity building’ aspect of our work, achieved through our Youth Star volunteers training local volunteers to run ongoing programs. These programs include book clubs, tuition for “out-of-school children” (to assist their reintegration into the school system), helping run youth and children’s clubs and providing lessons in literacy and numeracy.

I asked Pharady to describe the skills she was learning from her Youth Star work and her response was “Management, leadership, communication, facilitation, problem solving, planning, report writing, monitoring and evaluation are the simply great skills I earn from working in the current position.” She is also observing the civic leadership skills being developed by our volunteers, enabling them to be “agents for change” in developing a more inclusive and democratic Cambodian civil society.

Pharady holds bachelor’s degrees from the Institute of Foreign Languages and Royal University of Law and Economics majoring in Education in English and Public Administration.

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.

Pharady with female volunteers in cohort 21
Pharady with female volunteers in cohort 21
With local partner Mrs Sokin in Trapeang Ruessei
With local partner Mrs Sokin in Trapeang Ruessei
With the children In Kompong Chen Choueng commune
With the children In Kompong Chen Choueng commune

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Mr CHHEOUN Tola
Mr CHHEOUN Tola

Welcome to all the friends of Youth Star! I hope you find this report inspiring, as it profiles the life and work of one of our current Youth Star volunteers, Mr. CHHEOUN Tola (Tola), who is transforming the lives of many community members in Preah Domrei commune in Kampong Thom province. 

Tola has a very different background to many of our Youth Star graduate volunteers, who often achieve their educational qualifications with the strong support of their families. Tola was born in the rural Cambodian village of Kork Chan, in the Ta Sorm commune of Siem Reap province. When he was just 3 years old, his parents and 3 of his 5 siblings all died in tragic circumstances. 

As a young child Tola was supported by the Cambodian Buddhist religious community and he later decided to become a Buddhist monk. At the age of 12 he entered the Sangkheum Center for Children in Siem Reap, which provided him with a home and educational opportunities. He lived in this centre for 8 years, and through his educational achievements obtained a scholarship to study at the Center for Information System Training in Phnom Penh for 6 months. 

After this study, Tola moved to Battambong province to work for the micro finance enterprise Digital Divide Data, before returning to Phnom Penh and obtain a degree at the Cambodian Royal University of Agriculture, where he majored in rural development. 

Tola has been volunteering for Youth Star since August 2015. His invigoration of the Preah Domrei community during the first two months of his placement has been extraordinary. 

Usually our Youth Star volunteers are accommodated by families in the local community, but Tola is staying at the Prasat Pich Rangsey pagoda in Leuk village. At the pagoda he is helping teach the monks English, clean the pagoda surroundings and construct new buildings. 

At the local commune school Tola is currently teaching 520 students— including 25 monks—from 13 surrounding villages. His classes include respect and care for the surrounding environment, with all students joining together to clean the teaching area and school surrounds before the daily lessons commence. He is so popular in the community that he is always receiving gifts of rice, meals and other offerings. He is also very popular with the Leuk Cheah school principal, Mr. Bin Tieng, who told Youth Star he is: 

‘so happy to have a Youth Star volunteer in my community, especially in my school. Before the presence of this Youth Star volunteer, this school is silent during the vacation. Now there are hundreds of students coming to study English for free with Mr. Chheoun Tola. And, there is no more concern about the rubbish in the school like there was before.’ 

In additional to his school classes, Tola often visits villages in the commune to undertake reading promotion for local children. One of Tola’s main activities during these visits and more generally during his placement is encouraging ‘out of school’ children to attend classes. (Youth Star is being supported by Aide et Action in its program to improve school attendance and greatly appreciates this support.)  Tola is also helping the commune leader do administrative work to help support the entire commune. 

When I think about Tola’s pathway in life so far, I am so grateful for the support that was given to him as a child by the Sangkheum Center for Children, who help abandoned and orphaned children. His life would probably have been so different without this support. Now he is helping other Cambodian children to obtain the educational opportunities that have transformed his own life. 

At Youth Star we are all very interested in following Tola’s future activities after his volunteer placement finishes. Just as his pathway to Youth Star has been very different, I suspect his future direction will also be very different. 

I hope you have enjoyed reading this report about a truly inspirational young man, who exemplifies what we are trying to achieve at Youth Star through improving the educational opportunities available to marginalised Cambodian children. As always, if you would like any further detail on Youth Star’s programs and activities please send me an email atmora@youthstarcambodia.org. 

Students at the pagoda
Students at the pagoda
Commune school children learning English
Commune school children learning English
Preah Domrei commune students
Preah Domrei commune students
Tola's school and students
Tola's school and students

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Your Turn - Promoting Volunteering
Your Turn - Promoting Volunteering

This report is a mixed bag of topics. The past few months have been very busy at Youth Star as we consolidate our new group of 10 graduates in their placements, continue to oversee the previous group of three graduates as they near the end of their year of volunteering and undertake recruitment of the next volunteer group. During this time we have also been busy providing submissions to donor organisations for funding assistance, active in promoting the benefits of volunteering to the broader Cambodian community and supporting Mrs Michelle Obama's 'Let Girls Learn' campaign.

One highlight so far this year was when our Youth Star volunteer Ms UTH Sithea was invited to participate in a panel session at a Peace Corps workshop in Siem Reap attended by the United States First Lady, Mrs Michelle Obama. Mrs Obama visited Cambodia in March 2015 to promote her 'Let Girls Learn' initiative. At the workshop Ms Sithea 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 enthusiastically supports Mrs Obama's 'Let Girls Learn' initiative, which is closely linked to Youth Star's objectives and work program. We have already posted a separate report on Globalgiving providing more information about the workshop, the initiative and even a photograph of Ms Sithea with Mrs Obama - you can read it here.

Last week I visited our group of volunteers working in Kratie province. They are all making great progress. It is so rewarding to see them grow as individuals and see the impact they are making on the communities in which they are placed. In 2015 Youth Star modified its mission and work program to provide an increased focus on eradicating illiteracy and poverty in marginalized Cambodian communities, and our new volunteers in Kratie province are all busy working towards this objective. Some photographs of Youth Star's work in supporting education in these communities are attached to this report.

In April 2015 I was invited to represent Youth Star as a panel member in a Cambodian television program entitled 'Your Turn'. The topic of the program was 'Volunteerism in Cambodia'. This program interviewed three representatives of NGOs operating in Cambodia about their experiences in promoting volunteerism. While this was my first TV appearance and I was very nervous, it was a great opportunity to promote volunteerism to the broader Cambodian community. The program is available on YouTube if you would like to watch it - it has English subtitles, and I have included a few screenshots from the program with this report. 

When Youth Star began its operations almost 10 years ago there were very few Cambodian organisations using Cambodian volunteers to deliver their programs. While international and locally based volunteerism has expanded in Cambodia over this period, the Youth Star graduate volunteering program is still unique in terms of the commitment required from our volunteers, who dedicate one year of their life to helping their country. 

We think the Youth Star volunteering model is more relevant than it has ever been and ideally suited to helping all young Cambodians to receive the education and tools needed to participate meaningfully in the development of their country.

As always, I would would welcome any questions you have about the Youth Star program or any aspect of our work. Just send an email to mora@youthstarcambodia.org .

The Your Turn panel discusses volunteering
The Your Turn panel discusses volunteering
Ms Sophea talks about volunteering to Your Turn
Ms Sophea talks about volunteering to Your Turn
YS volunteers Nut Ngoun, Heng Rina & Ea Chan Heng
YS volunteers Nut Ngoun, Heng Rina & Ea Chan Heng
Providing lessons in the classroom
Providing lessons in the classroom
Providing children with the opportunity to learn
Providing children with the opportunity to learn
Helping with physical exercises
Helping with physical exercises

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Some prospective recruits at Chea Sim University
Some prospective recruits at Chea Sim University

My previous project reports have mainly focused on the progress of Youth Star volunteers as they undertake their work in rural communities. I thought you might be interested in learning how we recruit our volunteers, as this is one of the major activities of Youth Star and a task we are now busy undertaking.

The recruitment process requires considerable forward planning. As we only recruit university graduates, we generally need to communicate with potential volunteers before they graduate. To do this, we undertake presentations at three Cambodian universities to students in their final year. The current recruitment program is for volunteers who will start their placements in August 2015.

Our presentations focus on the Youth Star philosophy and the benefits to both the students and communities in which they serve from being a Youth Star volunteer for one year. We involve two Youth Star volunteer alumni in these presentations, so students can ask questions of former volunteers about the various aspects of volunteering. A common question asked of alumni is what life is actually like in the village communities, as many Cambodian students have little experience of life in these communities.

The most difficult part of our recruitment is explaining the longer term benefits of being a Youth Star volunteer. We only provide our volunteers with a modest monthly stipend, whereas students will receive a much higher salary if they obtain employment post-graduation. We focus on the benefits volunteers can provide to rural communities, as we are targeting students with a social conscience who will hopefully become future leaders of Cambodian civil society.

At Youth Star we are proud of our achievements in developing future leaders. We have a strong Youth Star alumni group who get together regularly throughout the year. Once they have completed their volunteering, our alumni are also sought after employees and generally find positions with good career prospects, often in areas developing Cambodian society. Next week we have three volunteers who are completing their time with Youth Star and all three have already secured good positions.

We are fortunate to have the assistance of Cambodian universities in providing us with facilities to assist our recruitment and lecturers who promote our activities. Youth Star volunteer positions are also advertised on our website, Facebook page and Cambodia’s major recruitment website - www.bongthom.com.

Of course advertising our volunteering positions is only the beginning of the recruitment process. There is always constant liaison with potential volunteers and usually their parents, who often have concerns about their child living in a rural community for 12 months and questions about how Youth Star will provide support during this time. Once we have shortlisted potential volunteers, we also test them for their suitability in being able to handle the rigours of village life and particularly their conflict resolution skills.

We have already gone through these processes for the next round of volunteers, who after pre-departure training from Youth Star are expected to commence their placements in March 2015, subject to funding being available to support them for 12 months. We have another Globalgiving project currently underway to try and raise these funds and we would welcome your support enabling us to reach this goal.

I would welcome any questions you have about our recruitment process or any other aspect of Youth Star’s work. Just send an email to mora@youthstarcambodia.org .

Presenting on the benefits of being a YS volunteer
Presenting on the benefits of being a YS volunteer
Learning about the Youth Star approach
Learning about the Youth Star approach
Finding out what is required to be a YS volunteer
Finding out what is required to be a YS volunteer
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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

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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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