Permalink to Featured Student Profile: Mok Sombo

Featured Student Profile: Mok Sombo

At five years old, Mok Sombo’s happy childhood changed drastically when his father passed away from HIV, and his mother was also diagnosed with HIV. The extended families cut off contact with Sombo’s family leaving his mother to fend for herself and her two boys in the slums of Cambodia. Out of fear and lack of education, parents in the community told their kids not to play with Sombo and his brother. Sombo describes this period of time as feeling like he was living in a black plastic bag where there was no light, and it was difficult to breathe.

Then, at age 16, a classmate, Bun Nakit, (a student at EYC) brought Sombo to Youth School. From that moment, Sombo knew EYC was different. There, the teachers and students welcomed him warmly accepting him for who he was and helping him see his worth.

Sombo explains, “EYC is so meaningful for me because when I start at Youth School, everything is different. My teacher, my classmates, and friends from other (EYC) schools, are love, and they give me a lot more things than the community I live in. They teach me what is right and what is wrong, and they give me advice when I do something wrong and praise when I do a good thing.

Sombo took English and computer classes at EYC and became a Team Leader at Youth School and a computer teacher at Aziza. Additionally, through EYC’s partnerships with Sa Sa Art Projects and Music Arts School, teachers and volunteers recognized and helped Sombo develop his talents as an artist and musician.

Sombo, now 21 years old, is a scholarship student at EYC studying Design at SETEC Institute and working as the Art Director and Graphic Designer at Music Arts School. He is an accomplished artist and musician and continues to give back to EYC by creating school murals and working on various EYC art projects.

For many years, Sombo kept his mother’s HIV a secret because he was afraid that people would look down on him and his family if they knew. Today, he is no longer afraid. Because of the sense of community he has found at EYC, he has the courage to be himself and express his talents in the world.

Like many of our students, Sombo was filled with potential but was lacking opportunity. Through EYC’s programs and support he now has a future that would have seemed unimaginable a few years ago.

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:

Permalink to EYC student becomes IT professional with help from EYC

EYC student becomes IT professional with help from EYC

One of Empowering Youth in Cambodia’s (EYC) programs is Lakeside School, offering educational programs and activities which serve the slum community known as Boeung Kok since 2008. With 132 students attending classes daily, Lakeside School has been a pillar in the community. EYC also provides over 35 students with direct support for their advanced studies.

Lakeside School

Four years ago one student, Chan Ranuy, was struggling along with his family to make ends meet. His prospects of remaining in school, much less graduating or obtaining marketable skills appeared grim.

Next EYC prepared Ranuy for a program for students from poor families to study IT and life skills intensively, and paid the subsidized tuition when he was accepted. Now, he has completed a 2-year Associates Degree in System and Network Administration. He has obtained a good job with a technology company in computer service, and is making an excellent starting salary while continuing his studies toward a bachelor’s degree in IT.

Ranuy has long days now between a full time job and classes in the evenings, but he is very energized and hopeful for the future. He and his family are very proud and grateful to the support he has received from EYC. “I think that, if I had not received the help from EYC, I really don’t know how my life would be. I would like to say thanks for all of your help and for the knowledge and skill to change and improve my life. I hope that many others can be helped to change their lives like I was,” said Ranuy.

The EYC team knows that when we give a hand up to young people with potential the results are often excellent.

We hope you will help us to help many other children like Ranuy. Please donate here.

Permalink to Computer Training for 120 Cambodian Youth

Computer Training for 120 Cambodian Youth


EYC is happy to report that we met our fundraising goal thanks to our generous donors, and are underway to provide quality computer training to over 120 young people living in poor communities. We have done some upgrading in recent months, replacing hardware and doing system upgrades, allowing our teachers to teach from MS 2010 and Photoshop. We also have increased the responsibilities and salaries of some of our existing teachers who are mostly EYC alumni, enabling them to better focus on their teaching. Two teachers have also received scholarships to receive advanced IT training as part of our effort to upgrade the quality of our trainers.

We’ve also expended our XO computer training which is now being taught at Youth School. The XO computers are a tool for independent learning and critical thinking. Some activities require the students to think hard, but the classes are fun and our students love it.


Each of our computer labs is equipped with Internet, and after completing the basic training students are introduced to using the Internet, which they pick up fast. The use of technology has great potential to level the playing field in a highly corrupt country like Cambodia where having information can challenge the existing power structures.

Competency with computers is a prerequisite for many jobs, and EYC has had good results with students being placed into jobs through our job placement program. One EYC student, a university sophomore, said “I am happy to be an EYC student and especially I get a chance to study for free. After finishing the courses I will apply for a job, and because a good job requires computer skills, I hope to be able to get a good job.” EYC has had great success to date with students learning computers and putting those skills to work in many ways, from working in offices to creating media campaigns. Thanks to your support we will continue building these skills and it will empower our students.


Permalink to Humans of Phnom Penh: A Photoblog

Humans of Phnom Penh: A Photoblog

A group of EYC students have started an interesting photoblog on Facebook called Humans of Phnom Penh . It gives an insight into the daily lives of some of the capital’s residents through photography and short interviews and it was inspired by a similar blog, Humans of New York. Each student chooses individuals they meet in the city and who they find interesting to include in the project. Phnom Penh through Cambodian eyes. The blog is in Khmer and in English, take a look:

Also, read the story about Humans of Phnom Penh in The Phnom Penh Post. 

Here’s the first post from Humans of Phnom Penh on March 9th, 2014.


– How long have you been picking tins like this?
I have been doing this for five or six months already.

– Do you like doing this? Why?
Yes, I like doing this because I want to help earn money for my parents.

– Do you think you will do this job forever?
No, nowadays I study at a Christian school and I get good grades as well. This job is just to help my parents during my free time only.

– So what is your goal in the future?
I think I will study hard and I am going to be a business manager and a school principal so poor kids like me will be able to study for free. I am not going to do this forever.

– តើប្អូនមករើសកំបុ័ងបែបនេះយូរប៉ុណ្ណាហើយ ?

– តើប្អូនចូលចិត្តធ្វើបែបនេះទេ? ព្រោះអ្វី?

– តើប្អូនគិតថាប្អូននឹងធ្វើការបែបនេះរហូតឫ?
អត់ទេ, សព្វថ្ងៃខ្ញុំរៀននៅសាលាគ្រិស្ទាន ហើយខ្ញុំរៀនបានលេខល្អទៀតផង ការងារនេះគឺគ្រាន់តែសំរាប់ជួយឪពុកម្តាយរបស់ខ្ញុំនៅពេលទំនេតែប៉ុណ្ណោះ។

– ចឹងប្អូនមានបំណងបែបណាដែរសំរាប់ថ្ញៃអនាគត?
ខ្ងុំគិតថាខ្ញុំនឹងខិតខំរៀនសូត្រហើយ នឹងចង់ក្លាយទៅជាអ្នកគ្រប់គ្រងអាជីវកម្ម និង នាយកសាលា ដើម្បីឲ្យក្មេងៗដែលក្រីក្រដូចខ្ញុំបានចូលរៀនដោយមិនបាច់អស់លុយ ។ខ្ញុំមិនចង់ធ្វើបែបនេះរហូតនោះទេ ។

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