Our story and Philosophy

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.

Localization

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!

Our mission is to work with young Cambodians and connect them to the skills, opportunities and inspirations needed to reach their potential.

Our key goal: is to increase the percentage of Kralanh and Srei Snom graduates accessing skilled employment.

Core Values: We believe that positive changes are only possible if we invest time in people. The changes we want to see in the world won’t come from giving things away, or focusing on inputs rather than high quality impact. We are just as impatient as others to make these changes, but we have learned through our mistakes and our successes, that only through investing time in a team of passionate, local leaders will be able to reach our vision. The core values of PEPY Empowering Youth reflect this:

  • Transparency and accountability
  • Integrity and honesty
  • Respect and support each other
  • Learning, sharing and have fun
  • Ownership and collaboration
  • Open to give and receive feedback

 

Transparency and accountability

“Life is a long lesson in humility.” – James Matthew Barrie

We work hard to be transparent about our struggles and share them with as much enthusiasm as when we promote our achievements – in the hope that others may use these lessons to avoid the same mistakes in the future. In the areas where we have had success, we work to spread these models through trainings and sharing resources. We know we have a lot to learn from others, both from what works and what doesn’t, so we’re glad when we can give back through communicating our own achievements and mistakes.

 

Integrity and honesty

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

It’s definitely not enough to talk the talk, we need to walk the walk. Role modeling our principles to become an integral part of each of our lives is a principle within itself. Give us feedback (remember, we love that!) and help keep us in line if you think we are falling short.

 

Respect and support each other

All I ask is that you support me as a human being.

Respecting each other is important when we experience challenges. We are all different and all have varying life circumstances which have brought us where we are today. We all need to turn to someone when we have got a problem. Support from our friends and colleagues is essential to our work.

 

Learning, sharing and have fun

“Creativity is intelligence having fun”. Albert Einstein

We take our work seriously, but we love what we do and who we do it with, so we have a lot of fun. Sometimes the fun we have gives rise to our best and most creative ideas. If it wasn’t for this loving, quirky culture, we wouldn’t be as passionate about working at PEPY Empowering Youth.

 

Ownership and collaboration

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” – Ryunosuke Satoro

In our “PEPY Writing Guidelines” we were told to avoid clichés, but given our bike riding roots, it seems fitting to break the rule to say this: we don’t want to reinvent the wheel. As much as we would love to do everything, we know we can’t, and we relish working with partners who can bring their skills and experience to help us achieve our mission. Many of the lessons we have learned at PEPY Empowering Youth have come from partnering with others and seeking out mentorship and guidance from those with more experience in effecting positive change.

Internally, we recognize the importance of teamwork. We ask each team member to take responsibility for the energy they bring into the room and take ownership of the impact they have, not just on our work, but on our team. We embrace the diversity of experiences we have in our group and encourage debate and discuss.

 

Open to give and receive feedback

“Feedback is the breakfast of champions”, Ken Blanchard

It’s important that we both give, and receive feedback within PEPY Empowering youth. Self-reflection is emphasized and constructive criticism encouraged. We strive to both give and accept feedback with a spirit of generosity and kindness, understanding that the goal of all feedback is to help one another learn and improve. The more we do this, the more comfortable it becomes and the quicker we learn. We want to work with team members who seek out feedback because they realize “it’s not personal”, and that only through seeing our weaknesses from the outside are we are able to learn how we can improve ourselves and our impact.