PEPY Updates

Posted on: May 6, 2008 Posted by: Kaia Smith Comments: 0

PEPY Updates

With the start of the Cambodian New Year, we have a number of new developments. Things are moving quickly here with Aline and Maryann working much of the time out in Chanleas Dai. We are looking into building an office there, and have been generously donated land from the Commune near the new Junior High School in Chanleas Dai. These plans are still in the beginning stages, but we are excited to be moving some staff to have a more permanent presence in the community. Our hope is to build an office that will also have an English and Computer classroom for secondary students so that they can continue their studies in English and Computers after 6th grade.

Project Updates:

  • Maryann and Rotha accompanied the 8 AUW Scholars to Chittagong, Bangladesh in late March. The girls are settling into life there and we are keeping updated on their progress.
  • The Teacher Award Program is in place and will conclude in July. We have a point-based system that includes teacher attendance, student follow up, parent-association evaluations and also student attendance and learning information. Successful teachers will receive food items and also a cash supplement in July.
  • We continue to learn about the new XO laptops, and children are using them daily in the classroom and taking them home for projects. Though our computer learning programs are still developing, the children are engaged in and excited about the program (as are we).
  • We have started a partnership with CIST, a two year IT vocational training center outside of Phnom Penh. We will give presentations with CIST at two high schools in Siem Reap this month, allowing 12th graders to apply to attend their trainings. Acceptance is based on test scores, motivation interviews, and a thorough needs assessment. Our hope is that a few bright students from our area will be selected and then sponsored by PEPY for CIST’s trainings to show successful models of the benefits of education.
  • In April we started 11 child clubs in Chanleas Dai commune, one in each of the villages. Our 5 child educators are overseen on a weekly basis by Aline Meas, who has over 7 years experience in Child-to-Child education. 212 students are enrolled in the weekly child clubs. We are also asking for sponsors for each of these child clubs (at 1,500 dollars per year). For more specific information please email or see our most recent newsletter.
  • Last month Aline and Maryann met with the 8 eco-club principals in Chanleas Dai and discussed screening RDI’s New World Educational Video series monthly at those schools. The principals were very excited and we will begin monthly showings this Saturday. Our part-time facilitator Sao Sokchea is helping with this project.
  • Over the past two months we have received 150 water filters for distribution in the community. We sell these at for 11 dollars at monthly video showings, and the teachers who help with showings split the one dollar/filter profit. Teachers then can borrow filters to sell themselves, repaying the money in monthly installments. This program has been very successful so far, and community members are eager to buy the filters. We also gave filters to each of the teachers and had RDIC staff visit to train all teachers on how to clean, use, and teach about the filters.
  • We found out that WFP has canceled all school feeding programs in Cambodia due to the rising cost of rice. We met with WFP and with all principals at the schools we work with as well as the commune chief in the area. We are considering the option of donating enough rice to extend the school breakfast program at 6 schools in the area for the next three months. WFP did not notify any of the schools that they were cutting the program, so there will be no deliveries next month. Until a week ago, principals did not know this. We hope to start this feeding program this month, as the infrastructure is already in place through WFP and the community, the only remaining component being the actual rice donation. If anyone is looking to help sponsor this emergency feeding program, they can also reach us at
  • Although our goal has been to focus on projects other than English classes, upon meeting with the Commune leadership and students, we have found the English/Computer classes to be some of the highest motivational factors for attending school. This is partially because of the prospect of learning these new skills, but also largely due to Tolors, our amazing English teacher. Tolors has been with us for nearly three years now. He was the first college-educated teacher that most people in the community had ever met, and the Commune Chief can’t say enough great things about him: “If all teachers were like Tolors, we wouldn’t have to worry about education in Cambodia.” It’s true! So, in order to continue to offer our English/Computer programs, but make Khmer literacy our focus, we are considering requiring a Khmer reading/writing test in order to register for English/Computers. Only those who can prove at least a basic level of Khmer literacy can join the extra classes, and those who are not able to pass would then be registered to take semi-private (ideally with a max of 10 kids per level group compared with a multi-leveled 40 person class) literacy classes in the library in order to join the English/Computer program.
  • To further promote Khmer literacy and to give those students who might need help passing the test a better chance, we are hoping to offer a 2-3 week Khmer Camp this September just before school starts. The idea would be to bring highly trained Khmer teachers to the community and have them partner with the current government-funded teachers to teach both the lower level beginning learners as well as arrange reading groups, educational projects, and child-to-child type projects for the students. This would:
  • Provide additional training opportunities for the government teachers
  • Provide additional income opportunities for the Khmer Teachers and the Child-to-Child educators
  • Give students a chance to focus on Khmer literacy and ideally improve motivation and self-confidence going into the next year of school
  • Provide a school feeding opportunity daily as, with the next rice harvest not until November and rice stocks already low, many students/parents will likely be even more likely to encourage participation if lunch is fed
  • Give us the chance to bring the Child-to-Child education model to students who are not registered for the clubs
  • Give high level learners who are often overlooked in class the chance to challenge themselves
  • Start reading clubs, which could then be continued throughout the year, as well as “reading challenges” where students who read a book can write a small report about the book or present their ideas to a teacher/librarian. Once they have read a certain number of books, they will have the chance to go on an educational trip (to a university visit in Siem Reap? NGO visits? More temples?) or perhaps lower goals of a party with snacks etc. This idea would continue into the school year as well.
  • Continue to promote Khmer Literacy, the use of the library, and local teacher empowerment while using the “carrot” of English/Computer classes as one of the motivational tools.


  • Meas Vanna Aline continues to lead our programs and will be with us for an additional year (and we hope much longer).
  • Tolors is suffering from health problems and has asked that he have less or no teaching responsibilities. We are in the process of hiring a new English teacher for this reason. The candidates will do mock lessons in Chanleas Dai over the next month to assess their motivation and ability. Tolors has stated his plans to apply for a Program Manager position with PEPY.
  • We will be hiring an Education Program Manager based in Chanleas Dai. Though the recruitment process will be open, current staff will be encouraged to apply.
  • We have hired 6 part-time staff in Chanleas Dai (5 child to child educators and 1 New World Video facilitator). Our hope is that these staff too will be able to move up into more full-time positions with PEPY. Perhaps the one most motivated by the Child-to-Child approach will become the Child-to-Child Club coordinator next year, or help do further training. Others might join our summer Khmer teaching program or work as Literacy Teachers in the library if that program expands. We hope to continue to hire local staff from within and around Chanleas Dai commune to
  • 1) increase jobs available to educated community members both as a motivation for students to continue their education and as a means of building the capacity and income generation options in the area
  • 2) help ensure the sustainability of our programs as we recognize that outside leadership will likely only stay in the rural community for a limited number of years and local capacity building will likely provide more long term consistency in these positions.
  • We have hired new interns for the summer and fall to keep our marketing/website/graphic design etc moving forward. We will introduce them to you here once they arrive, but know that we are VERY excited about them! We had over an influx of applicants this year, and it was hard to make decisions about interns as there were many qualified candidates.
  • We are sad to say goodbye to interns Michael, Mandy, Jonathan, and Peppi, all of whom have volunteered with us for a minimum of 6 months. Theirs are big shoes to be filled!
  • Chenda Chhay, our accountant, was offered a visa to the US to continue her studies. We are so excited for her. We are also excited to welcome our new Accountant, Judy Tauv, who has already been an amazing addition to our team. Don’t be fooled by the name, she’s 100% Khmer. Larry Blau, an accountant from the States, is also here this week helping us file taxes and strengthen our accounting processes.


Donations for rice!

  • Rural English Teacher Volunteer
  • Rural Computer teacher Volunteer
  • Agriculture Expert Volunteer

These are all positions located in Chanleas Dai and will include training Cambodian community members and working with our staff in the area. These positions require a minimum of two years prior work in their field of expertise, a desire to share skills and train local staff, students, and community members, and the flexibility to live in rural Cambodia. Housing and stipend provided. If you know of anyone who wants to work with us here, please let us know! The listings are on our website as well as