A fundamental part of our projects is to ensure that the students are provided with sufficient pastoral care so that they are supported in all aspects of their lives. There are a number of ways in which the PEPY Empowering Youth team supports the students in a pastoral capacity.
For the first two years of their study, we want their academic work to be the the primary focus od the students and as such, we supply them with a living allowance so that supporting themselves is not something they need to worry about. In addition to this, each student is provided with health insurance and an annual medical allowance so that all their medical needs are met, whether it is a small health issue, an accident or an emergency. The staff team will also support the students in such issues by accompanying them to appointments and dealing with the administrative factors, such as paying the bills.
The Programs team conducts a home visit to the students’ shared residence in Siem Reap once a month. The purpose of this to ensure that the students’ living conditions are maintained to a high standard and that any problems they may be encountering in their home situation, such as issues with the landlord, arguments in the house, can be addressed andresolved.
In addition to this, monthly student meetings are held where, with all scholarship students in attendance, all events, problems and successes of the month are discussed. The student meetings provide a great forum through which students can address both their peers and the PEPY Empowering Youth staff about anything they may wish to do so.
One of the most important aspects of pastoral care is the regular counseling sessions, which Scholarship Officer, Channa, conducts with each student. During these sessions, students are encouraged to identify and broach any concerns or questions they may have, regardless of the topic or nature. The students are also welcome to approach staff independently for counseling sessions, should they have any issues or worries they may want to discuss. Students often approach staff simply so that they can learn about their experiences and compare/exchange ideas.
During their time in the Learning Center, the students are also introduced to ideas and practices such as meditation and anger management. Youth Empowerment classes also deal with important topics which students have often not been exposed to before such as mental health.
Students are also encouraged to participate in organized group activities such as playing football and group bike rides. Whilst also being activities that the students enjoy, this is important in encouraging their teamwork and friendships, maintaining their physical and mental health and also keeping them motivated.
Pastoral care is not only beneficial for the students, but also an important part in us understanding the students’ needs and altering our work accordingly. The students’ feedback is a fundamental for PEPY Empowering Youth to identify any challenges and address them to ensure that all their needs are met and that they are best equipped to pursue their dreams – meaning that our vision, mission and goal of young Cambodians being empowered to pursue careers to improve both the quality of their lives and their communities can be achieved.