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, in which over 1.5 million people were either murdered or died from overwork and starvation [1]. The repercussions of this atrocity, and the subsequent years of civil turmoil, have been far reaching, and, due to the most educated people being targeted first by the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia has since 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. With the promise of opportunities for employment outside of the city many Cambodians, 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 at the high school level with the young people of Kralanh, Srei Snam, and Varin Districts. Kralanh is a rural area 65km outside the city of Siem Reap, Siem Reap province, while Srei Snam is around 80km away. In addition to those areas, we also recruit Scholarship Program students from Kompong Leaeang and Baray Districts, located in Kompong Thom and Kompong Chnang Provinces, with the support of one of our partners, iHerb.