Meeting Ireland’s President in Ho Chi Minh

Friday, November 2016
by Romina Olmoguez

img_5615PEPY Empowering Youth’s staff and students once again had the pleasure of visiting Vietnam to represent Cambodia and meet Ireland’s President, Michael D. Higgins. Colm, Konnitha, Sithong and Khanya left last November 11 for a two-day trip to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, where they met with the people from the LIN Center Vietnam and the Irish Embassy.

Their first day was the Ambassador’s Reception at the Caravelle Hotel where they met with President Higgins, Minister Flanagan and Ambassador Moran together with other NGOs that are being supported by Irish Aid. Our team was more than delighted to share the night with the people that have extended their support and guidance to PEPY that made it possible for a lot of our projects to become successful. President Higgins and his wife, Sabina, spent considerable time getting updated about PEPY’s current activities and projects and in particular the Irish link which has developed in recent years. We met the President in Ireland earimg_5746lier this year when our staff and students joined the Irish Exchange Program in 2016 and that encounter had a lasting effect on the participants, especially our students who were inspired by the experience.

The team headed to the LIN Center the next day, PEPY was the only NGO representing Cambodia in this event and the lovely Konnitha and Khanya proudly wore their traditional Khmer clothes for the occasion. Our students, Sithong and Khanya represented the scholarship students very well and spoke about the difference PEPY has made to their lives. The highlight of the day was when the team presented their gift that they brought from Siem Reap to President Higgins, an oil painting of the Angkor Wat temple framed in wood.

img_5851It was an amazing experience for our team, having the opportunity to meet with the people working on different NGOs in Vietnam and widening their network for learning and sharing best practices. It also was brought them much pride and joy to be able to represent Cambodia and share our success stories that we hope other organisations will find inspiring and useful. Vietnam has always been a gracious host, from its friendly people, dynamic cities and sumptuous food, we hope that there will be more opportunities for PEPY and other Cambodian organisations to work closely with our neighbouring country.

It was a wonderful occasion and a great thing to be a part of thanks to Irish Aid, Miss Chi of LIN Center for Community Development, Cuong Phan from the Irish Embassy in Vietnam and most especially, President Michael Higgins for making all of this possible.