Our story


The idea for PEPY began in 2004, when Daniela Papi and Greta Arnquist began planning a cycling adventure across Cambodia to learn and contribute to education programs in the region. A team of four friends joined them and “The PEPY Ride” (at the time, standing for Protect the Earth, Protect Yourself) took shape. In 2005 the team raised funds to support a school-building project in conjunction with a Phnom Penh-based organization, American Assistance for Cambodia. They also partnered with a local environmental education organization with the aim of delivering educational classes throughout the ride.

On visiting Cambodia a few months before the bike ride to plan the trip, Daniela discovered the school that had been built to supposedly support over 500 students was standing nearly empty, with only a couple of regular teachers. The team realized schools don’t teach kids, people do, and if they wanted the money they had fundraised to support the development of education in Cambodia, then they needed to invest in people.

Since then, our programs have expanded beyond environmental education and now focus on youth leadership and enhancing the employment capabilities of Kralanh and Srei Snam graduates. The programs are based on the premise that improving education, providing training, and stimulating creative ideas builds capacity for people to achieve their dreams, and provides opportunities for people to make the changes they want to see in their own communities.


On the 1 January 2015 we transitioned from being a US-registered 501c3 organization into being a solely Cambodian-registered local NGO (LNGO). PEPY Empowering Youth is a Cambodian LNGO run by Cambodians, for Cambodians. Promoting local ownership is an opportunity to create a sustainable organization with those from the country. As a local LNGO, we are creating some exciting new opportunities for ourselves including the establishment of a local board of directors. We believe as an organization that promotes empowering youth in Cambodia, we should also be about empowering our Cambodian team. Read more about localization here.

Our six core values define our organizational philosophy and approach to development.

We are always looking to learn more, so please read up on what we are doing, connect us to people and resources you think we could learn from, and share your ideas with us. We are grateful to have many mentors and advisers who have helped us develop and improve our efforts over the years. We welcome you to share your experiences and ideas with us: drop us a line, join us as a PEPY Tours trip participant, or support the work we do as a donor.

We hope that you choose to become part of the PEPY Empowering Youth Family!