Cambodia is a vibrant country within Southeast Asia, neighboring Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Sadly, Cambodia is often best known for its troubled past – the atrocity carried out by the Khmer Rouge. A reign of terror was inflicted from 1975-1979, during which over 1.5 million people were either murdered or died from overwork and starvation . The repercussions of this atrocity, and the subsequent years of civil turmoil, have been far reaching and as most educated people were targeted first by the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia has struggled with a lack of trained educators and skilled professionals.
The majority of the PEPY Empowering Youth programs are located in Siem Reap Province, which, despite having the benefits of the booming tourist industry around Angkor Wat, is one of the poorest provinces in Cambodia. Most families depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. There are few opportunities for employment outside of the city and many, including those as young as 12, choose to migrate illegally to Thailand in search of work to support their families. Compared to national averages of school retention rates, educator-to-student ratios and high school graduation rates, Siem Reap is one of the lowest ranking provinces in terms of the quality of education.
Our programs work with the young people of Kralanh District. Kralanh is a rural area 65km outside the city of Siem Reap, Siem Reap province.
PEPY Empowering Youth (then known as PEPY) began working in Chanleas Dai (a village within Kralanh District) because our original partner organization identified the need for a school building in that community and the PEPY Empowering Youth founders raised funds to build the school in collaboration with the Cambodian government and the Asian Development Bank. During the first few years of PEPY’s work, we funded education programs in many parts of the country, but in 2007, when we hired our first Cambodian director, she conducted an impact assessment and needs analysis, which led to the decision to focus our work in Kralanh. Due to the commitment of the community, local desire to improve education, and the leadership youth have shown in the area, PEPY Empowering Youth continues to work in the Kralanh community.
Our HQ office is now based in Siem reap city, in order to be closer to the scholarship students living here and so we can manage our own Learning Center here. These facilities are especially for Kralanh students. Our Dream Project Coordinator is based in Kralanh in order to deliver facilitation at Kralanh High School.