Category Archives: News

Permalink to What’s Happening at EYC: Spring 2018

What’s Happening at EYC: Spring 2018

The second quarter of 2018 proved to be a busy one for us. We celebrated the Khmer New Year, distributed computer tablets to every school, increased the number of violin, guitar and piano classes, and started Jujitsu classes each Sunday.  A few additional highlights from the last three months include:

Skype Pen Pal Program :
Towards the end of 2017, we kicked off our first ever Skype Pen Pal program in partnership with university students at Whitman College.  Eight female EYC high school and university scholarship students were paired with US partners for bimonthly Skype calls.  The program’s objective is for the EYC students to further develop their English language skills through regular communication with native English speakers and for the Skype pen pals to develop a better understanding of each other’s lives, cultures, and values. While time zones and nervousness created some challenges, the chance for our students to practice their English and increase their confidence is an amazing opportunity, and we plan to continue it next Fall, hopefully expanding the program.

Lice & Deworming Program:
This spring, we hosted our annual deworming and lice removal program at all EYC schools.  Many of our children have lice, and some students’ scalps are too irritated for them to concentrate on their studies.  In addition, a number of our students have worms, which impact their overall health.  During the program, we provide deworming pills, clean their hair and provide training. This is an important yearly program designed to equip students with a knowledge of hygiene as well as ways to prevent worms and lice.

All School Bike Race Event:
On May 20th, 30 kids (ages 7-12) from all schools participated in a bike event with the goal of creating the next generation of EYC bikers!  The event consisted of four races – three categories for boys and one for girls – and medals were given out for the top three competitors in each category. Chhenghour, Nara, the Team Leaders, as well as EYC’s bike team helped organize the event and offered encouragement to the kids throughout the day.  Our wonderful partner, Flying Bikes, was invaluable in helping to make this event a reality.

Team Leader Monthly Development Opportunities:
Team Leaders are an integral part of EYC. They are responsible for making many EYC programs a reality including sports and library activities. This volunteer position allows the Team Leaders to develop leadership and personal skills and also helps keep EYC costs lower.  Monthly development programs included a “sound healing” workshop in March, a First Aid training in April, and a pizza party in May with EYC graduate, Simouy, who shared her story of inspiration and what the Team Leaders could achieve through hard work and perseverance.

Permalink to Volunteer Shares Her Experience with EYC

Volunteer Shares Her Experience with EYC

We were delighted to have Wendi Davies, from the Canadian International School (CIS) in Phnom Penh, volunteer with EYC. Wendy was among three teachers from CIS who visited EYC schools in April and donated much-needed materials to our teachers.  Each volunteer brings their own unique approach to working with our students, and we know our students value the interactions they have with our international volunteers.  Wendi captured her experience in her blog “Retired Traveler”.  Below is an excerpt from her post. Please click here to read the post in its entirety.

“When teaching in a private school in Phnom Penh, it is easy to feel disconnected from the people who live a very difficult life in much of this city. Last week I had the opportunity to visit and volunteer in slum schools and see first hand the work being done by Empowering Youth in Cambodia

…We, Canadian teachers, had an hour to work with 2 classes. I started with the class of sixteen older students who were 12-16.  They looked small for their age.  Their classroom had tall tables and a long bench for several students to sit side by side.  The world map was prominent on one wall.

We introduced ourselves.  I showed them where I lived in Canada and they shared their name and why they came to school.  They wanted to learn English.  They wanted to be teachers or work in tourism.  I felt very welcomed by the teacher and the students.

I had brought a cup, some water, and some paperclips.  We filled the cup to the very top, then I gave each student a paper clip and asked them to predict how many clips would fit in the cup before it overflowed.  This activity is from the grade 5 chemistry unit I have been teaching at school.  As I handed out the second, third and finally fourth round of clips, their excitement started bubbling over, even though the water didn’t.  Over 60 paperclips fit in the cupful of water.  The surface tension principle worked in Cambodia too.

After I had their attention, we played a math card game where they had to race their partner in identifying a number’s “double”. The giggles and shouted answers sounded just like kids anywhere.

I did the same activities with the younger group.  There were about 20 children, aged 6-12 in the other room.  The response was the same.  Kids love to learn, and they love to play.  Their smiling faces and enthusiasm were clearly evident.”

Permalink to Teaching Design Thinking at EYC

Teaching Design Thinking at EYC

It is important to EYC that we expose our students to different types of experiences and learning opportunities that stretch them and require them to push out of their comfort zones.  One such opportunity presented itself last June when we had two visitors from Hong Kong teach a design thinking workshop to 16 EYC students based on the Student Innovation for Global Health Technology (SIGHT) program.

One of the volunteers, K.C., shared his assumptions, expectations, and realizations in a post on his blog.  See below for an excerpt, and Click Here to read the entire post.  As K.C. discovered, the students of EYC usually exceed expectations 🙂

“On June 11, 2017, together with a Hong Kong friend of mine, Jonathan Yang, we conducted a design-thinking workshop in one of the slum areas in Phnom Penh. Literally, in one of the poorest areas in the city. However, throughout the workshop session, we uncovered so many fascinating insights about the way the participants think, devise ideas, and build prototypes based on their own critical thinking skills and the design-thinking framework (in this regard, Stanford’s 5-step design-thinking process) we have provided in the workshop…

…We gave the participants the five-step design-thinking processes that had been pioneered by Stanford University’s, that is the empathize-define-ideate-prototype-test pattern. To simplify the matter pertaining to what set of problems we would like to present in this workshop, we simply referred to one very simple question: how students can contribute to improving classroom designs. Rather than making text the dominant content in the slides, we focus instead on visuals, presenting to them various pictures of the classrooms, and other scenarios related to a typical school class, in order to give them a better framework of what kind of ‘ideal classroom’ they had in mind that can be introduced in adjustment to EYC’s setting. 

I was initially nervous about the predicted outcome of this workshop, because of several factors that – from my own, personal worldview – could hinder its effective implementation. First, this workshop has only been tested in Hong Kong for now, and my impression shows that design-thinking workshops are more suitable if applied in developed countries. Second, our workshop was situated inside a slum area that is not only poor, but also infamous for illicit drug trading, prostitution, and family violence, and your guess is as good as ours about ‘expectation gaps’ between what we wanted and what they actually needed. Third, Synoeun told us – based on her review of our presentation slides – that the students have never been exposed to the pictures we posted there, and in this regard, their designs of ‘ideal classrooms’ may look not much different from each other, given what she described as ‘relatively rudimentary critical-thinking skills’.



However, we chose to remain optimistic about the workshop because the staff has also positively reviewed our slides, highlighting that our slides focus more on visuals than on texts, which can be much easier for the participants to understand and follow our message. Moreover, if EYC could successfully and smoothly operate a school in this area despite the surrounding circumstances, why not with our workshop? Lastly, we stick to our beliefs that individuals, deep down in their hearts, have aspirations regardless of their current conditions. The only question is what would be the best approaches to truly understand what they really need inside their own hearts. And indeed, our expectation of the workshop worked well; to be quite frank, it even slightly exceeded our initial expectation.”


Permalink to What’s Happening At EYC: Winter 2018

What’s Happening At EYC: Winter 2018

Making Music at the Schools:

At the end of 2017, we were joined by our wonderful Canadian volunteers, Linda, Janis, and Clara. Linda, a pianist, and Clara, a cellist, shared their passion for music with the students of EYC by performing at each school. In addition to the performances, they also donated two keyboards to EYC, which are now being used to teach piano at Lakeside and Youth School. We are grateful they helped us expand our music offerings beyond guitar classes.

Kamol, a piano teacher, and Samnang, an EYC scholarship student, and musician, are continuing to bring music to the EYC classrooms through weekly singing, violin, and piano classes. Samnang’s love of music is contagious and the kids are having a lot of fun discovering new talents.

In addition, we are delighted to be partnering with Cambodia Sings once again to bring singing into our classrooms. Our students find their voices through singing and they also get the opportunity to practice their English through song.

Bringing Art into the Classrooms:

Israeli volunteers and artists, Shoshanna and Gideon, recently spent two months with EYC leading daily art classes. At each school, 15-20 students aged five to fourteen years old participated in the art classes led by Shoshana. These classes explored different art techniques including jewelry making, t-shirt designs, school decorations, and game design. Kids explored their creative and artistic potential while learning other disciplines, including math and English. This culminated in an Art Exhibition on February 11 at our offices at Music Arts School providing our student artists with the chance to showcase their work to their parents, the EYC family, and visitors.

Although Shoshana and Gideon are back in Israel now, our art program continues thanks to our talented teacher, Daneth, who was trained by Shoshana and Gideon and will be teaching an art class every week in each school.

Music and arts offer children a different way to express themselves and interact with the world around them. Not only do the arts broaden their perspectives helping them think in new ways but the arts also bring joy and happiness to the kids. Outside of EYC, our students have very little access to music or to artistic expression, and it is important to us to support their creative exploration and provide them with opportunities to develop these new skills. In addition, through performing or showcasing their music or art in front of others they are building self-respect and gaining confidence.

Permalink to Doors Open At Aziza Thmey

Doors Open At Aziza Thmey

Three months after the closing of EYC’s first school “Aziza”, doors opened at “Aziza Thmey”. We are delighted to share that our latest school is already providing education to already 158 students!
In the months following the closing of the original Aziza, we managed to continue serving Aziza students with a full schedule of morning and evening English classes along with a fully operating computer lab using space in our offices.
In August we opened Aziza Thmey in the “Chak Angres” community, located about 25 minutes from the now demolished “White Building.”  Chak Angres is a poor community with diverse households, many still lacking basic infrastructure. Adjacent is a project where roughly 100 families from the White Building relocated using the compensation they received from their former homes. Other than this new construction project, the area is very much a slum, with many kids lacking basic education opportunities. Our team members are meeting families at their homes to further build relationships in the community, and we will continue to explain the purpose of EYC to increase attendance.

63 students attended classes in Aziza Thmey on the first day, and that number has already grown to 102. We will continue to expand the programs we offer at Aziza Thmey including resuming our weekly medical clinics, bringing in traditional Khmer dance, literacy classes for mothers and more.

Within two weeks of the “White Building” and Aziza’s closing, temporary English classes were organized at our office at Music Arts School. We are pleased to report that all of our older, evening students continued to attend classes. This is a key group of youth – many of them are scholarship students with incredible potential, and we were able to provide them education and stability during very uncertain times. Educational and leisure activities were promoted on the weekends to keep them united and happy.  We also have decided to keep one classroom running in our office since the location works so well for the older students, and we have 56 students attending classes every day (all former Aziza students).

Permalink to EYC Providing Sports to Develop a New Generation

EYC Providing Sports to Develop a New Generation

We recognize that helping nurture and develop young people requires a holistic approach, and so one of EYC’s many unique offerings is a sports programs for our students.  English and Computer training are critical for our students, but to truly develop their potential and self-confidence, we must provide additional opportunities to allow our students to thrive.

Our sports program has grown to impact over 200 students every year, and our goal is to expand that to over 24-DSCN7682300 students in 2017, with an extra focus on increasing the number of girls participating in the various activities and teams.  EYC’s sports include cycling, football (soccer), yoga, ultimate frisbee, swimming and dancing.

While our overhead for sports is very low, and we are lucky to partner with some amazing organizations (Indochina Starfish Foundation, Krama Yoga Cambodia, Women’s Ultimate Cambodia, Phnom Penh Ultimate Association and Swa Ultimate) that help our dollars go further, the cost of our sports program in 2017 will be $14,000-$15,000.

Here are examples of where your dollars go when you donate: 

  • $50 – Allows ten students to join an all-day bike ride through the countryside, including food and bike maintenance.
  • $100 – one month of weekly yoga classes for 12 students.
  • $200 – transportation, snacks and field rental for EYC’s ultimate Frisbee team for one month (two practices per week).
  • $350 – a new mountain bike.
  • $500 – Total annual cost of dance/aerobics program (7 students per week per school).

Think about an extracurricular activity that you participated in – the skills you learned, the friends you made and the self-confidence it developed.  Please consider making a donation to support these great causes and watch your impact grow.

EYC works in four slum areas in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and together with the community, we empower vulnerable young people through education, mentoring and direct support.

Permalink to Join EYC in a new era!

Join EYC in a new era!

Dear Friend of EYC,

It is now 10 years since Empowering Youth in Cambodia (EYC) began; we owe our donors and supporters immense thanks for making our work possible.  EYC has thrived beyond my greatest hopes, in large part due to you, our donors. We now start a new era at EYC with a transition to new leadership and a solid foundation to build on.
My family and I have moved to Denver, Colorado, USA and I’m wrapping up the last pieces of the transition.Drew with Kids at Lakeside Stepping into the role of country manager is a dynamic leader who is already improving upon what we’ve built.

On a personal note, my time in Cambodia these past 10 years has been a blessing and a life experience I will always cherish. In particular the students of EYC have shown such remarkable courage and persevered beyond what I could ever imagine. The stark contrast between their inner beauty and the environments they were born into was a constant reminder to fight for their cause. And they were always worth fighting for. So thanks from the bottom of my heart for all of you who have been so generous and have made EYC’s work possible. Many students whose prospects in life ten years ago were bleak are now great success stories.

There have been so many great stories to tell, and it is not possible to communicate how much happens on the ground. The great results improved each year, and now with 800 students coming to EYC schools each day we feel great about what we’re doing and what we can achieve with your donations. EYC’s students need and greatly appreciate your help – please DONATE whatever you can so we can deliver our leadership, self-development and education programs. We want to expand our sports programs so more of our students, particularly girls, can take part in soccer (football), yoga, ultimate frisbee, cycling, swimming and aerobics.If you need a little extra motivation, all donations made through October 21st will be MATCHED 50% by an anonymous donor (up to $10,000)! So please, donate here;

I hope to be in touch more with reflections and updates in the future. It is incredibly emotional for me to leave Cambodia and the wonderful community of EYC. Although I am happy to be where I am, I will continue to miss the students, their families, the staff and the slum communities where I was always treated with such warmth.

Now let me introduce my friend and successor Delphine Vann! Delphine has been acquainted with EYC for several years, and it was her admiration for our students that developed into her replacing me. The transition has delphine-lo-resbeen in the making since late 2015, and I’m very pleased to report that she already has made obvious to all her ability to move EYC’s mission forward and to develop our students.

A little background on Delphine; in 2001, Delphine moved to Cambodia, drawn by the need to re-discover the country of her birth and the home country of her father, who is regarded as Cambodia’s greatest architect. As a little girl, as war was emerging in Cambodia, she and her family were able to escape to find refuge in Switzerland, her mother’s country.

The urge to “return to Cambodia to help” inspired Delphine to build a career as a humanitarian. She worked in war torn areas around the world from Bosnia, Rwanda, to Columbia, returning to Cambodia in 2001.  After fifteen years of working in the country, Delphine’s conclusion is that Cambodia’s development lies in the hands of its youth.

Since taking the official role of country manager in May 2016, Delphine’s leadership has maintained all of EYC’s current programs, continuing to provide essential education and development opportunities for very marginalized but deserving youth.
Another exciting development in EYC’s leadership is that, after graduating from university, our very own Nov Synoeun assumed the role of program manager for all of EYC. Synoeun started as a student at DSC07717EYC’s very first school, Aziza School, and has done amazing things along the way in these past ten years; too many to describe, but here is a quick video of her story. She has never forgotten how EYC saved her from an uneducated life in the factories, and wanted to give back to EYC. We are lucky to have her skills, leadership and perspective.
Lastly, EYC is very fortunate to have a strong board of directors; several are active on a day-to-day basis, which make a huge difference in their effectiveness.

We hope you’ll feel as confident and overjoyed as I in the leadership of EYC. With your continued help the students at EYC will continue to take opportunities to improve their lives toward a future with joy and dignity.

I am stepping back from an official role at EYC, but I intend to stay involved and connected. I would love to hear from anyone who may have questions, ideas or concerns about EYC – please contact me or anyone at EYC;

Jodi Pederson (board member):

Best regards,
Drew McDowell, Delphine & the EYC team

Permalink to Help young Cambodians attend university!

Help young Cambodians attend university!

December 2015

Dear Friend of EYC,

Empowering Youth in Cambodia (EYC) needs your help to give our students a university education. Your contribution, big or small, can help us to ensure students like Lach Sreypich get their degree and an opportunity to work themselves out of poverty.

Sreypich is a bright and passionate student whose family lives in dire poverty near EYC’s Youth School where they rent a small house. Sreypich’s mother has health issues and is barely able to provide for her two younger brothers, so Sreypich is on her own financially and cannot afford the university fees. She has little in life, but her dreams of being an accountant can become reality with your help.

Our goal is $5,000, which will support 10 new scholarship students with university fees of $500 a year. We have already raised $2,200, so we need $2,800 more to help Sreypich and nine other scholarship students. We have an online campaign to track the progress, so please go HERE and make a donation. Thank you!


Looking for a holiday gift that makes a difference? Many of our computers in each of our schools are too old to run software programs that we need to teach, as well as consume our resources with maintenance, so you can help us buy new ones and give this gift to someone you care about. Donate $250 (or any amount) and we’ll send a personalized e-card to the person of your choice acknowledging your gift to them. Just send us their name and email address.
We really need 12 new computers, each will cost $250, which will bring us up to current technology and will last for some years to come. EYC’s computer labs give the students an opportunity to learn vital technology skills they need in the workplace, and EYC teaches 190 students in computers each day. Please consider a donation and helping us to prepare marginalized youth for their future. Click hereand give a special gift!

Warmest regards,




Drew McDowell
Country Manager
EYC Colour Logo 100mm

Permalink to Fulfilling Dreams at EYC

Fulfilling Dreams at EYC

Dear Friend of EYC,

Thanks to your support, Empowering Youth in Cambodia (EYC) has helped more young people than ever through our educational programs and community activities this year. Over 700 young people are learning English and computer skills in some of the most impoverished communities at our four schools. Our health, sports and regular leadership training programs continue to be essential activities in building strong young people.

Nov_newsletter EYC

EYC’s scholarship program helps young people to further their education in the face of poverty. One student named Chanta Bunthon has a dream to become a civil engineer and help to rebuild Cambodia. His mother died when he was young and his father works hard to support his family, but is unable to contribute to his son’s dream. Bunthon has been accepted to university to study engineering, but $400 is what stands between him and starting his degree.

Chantha Bunthorn2_newsletterBy donating to EYC, you can support Bunthon’s dreams of becoming an engineer. If you would like to support him and others to continue their studies at university, please donate here.

These are amazing differences that can be made to our students’ lives, and your contribution can make a big impact. The EYC team knows how rewarding it is to see young people reach their potential with a helping hand.

Thank you for your kind and generous support and for helping bright young people like Bunthon to overcome adversity and realize their dreams.

Warmest regards,





Drew McDowell & the EYC team

Permalink to New video clips of EYC students!

New video clips of EYC students!

Some short videos of EYC students/alumni talking about how EYC impacted their lives:

Nov Syneoun, an inspiring Aziza School alumni and current EYC staff:

Sophea, an English and computer student at Lakeside school:

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