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Permalink to A Fresh Look for our Youth School

A Fresh Look for our Youth School

In the past few weeks a few improvements have taken place at Youth School. With lots of volunteer labor from our students, school manager Kungkea took the lead on getting all the walls cleaned and painted, and all the classrooms now have attractive colors and a fresh feel. In addition, an old dilapidated cement wall was torn down and a new wall with a fence constructed. The wall will soon be decorated with a mural, as will one side of the building.

YS_Outside_after

Youth School is the first school to be painted as part of our new “Perfect Schools” program where our teams are working to maintain, organize and find ways to improve our school facilities. This is one way we plan to create conducive learning environments, and we feel providing higher standards are a key ingredient to behavior change and development. We also want to incorporate art, creativity, and fun throughout our activities and expect to have “Perfect Schools” as a goal that we always keep working toward.

YS_Classroom

EYC is lucky to have a new art teacher, Mr. Matte Birchler, who is an accomplished artist from New Zealand who has recently relocated to Phnom Penh. Matte has done many big murals in the past and is excited about using his talents to engage his students at Youth School in making some murals for everyone to appreciate.

Another new volunteer to Youth School is Ms. Joy Clifton, who comes to the school twice a week to read with the students. Joy has moved to Phnom Penh from Vancouver and is passionate about both kids and books, so she felt this volunteer job was just right for her.

Youth School is happy to announce our new computer teacher for the evenings, Ms. Sem Leaphy, who is a recent graduate from an intensive 2 year technology training program (only for poor students), and works as a web developer during the day. She will be teaching blogs and basic website programming in addition to the Microsoft suite. When asked about her new teacher, Youth School student Veng Chhenghak said “she is very friendly, punctual and serious in her teaching. She is a really good teacher.”


Permalink to From the slums of Phnom Penh to possibly studying in the US

From the slums of Phnom Penh to possibly studying in the US

“I would do the preparation class anyway”, said Keo Yary, an EYC student in 11th grade, when asked if she would attend this class even if there was no lure of a possible scholarship to the US. Yary is one of five lucky EYC students who have been selected for an excellent program created by EducationUSA Advising Center under the United States Embassy. The program is called the Opportunity Fund, and it aims to prepare youth from disadvantaged backgrounds to be able to access higher education in the United States.

The five students are Keo Yary, Ho Andy, Chon Sreyroth, Luck Chamnab and Ear Serivichara, and they are from Aziza School, Impact School, and Youth School, respectively. Now seven months into the program, the students were not at all “randomly selected”. There was a rigorous testing and interviewing process where the students had to demonstrate not only good English skills, but also strong academic skills, general knowledge, and leadership skills. And it is with good reason that the students are carefully chosen – the program invests a lot in them.

Star_studentsThree times a week the students attend class for two hours, where they learn advanced English and also learn about culture, food, and general knowledge. In addition, the students meet every Sunday morning to discuss the book that was assigned for that week’s reading. Later in the program they will learn about scholarship applications, how to write an essay for college applications, get help with the passport application, and more. The program aims to fully prepare the students to apply for college and scholarships to study in the US.

But there is no guarantee of admission to a US college. And each student not only needs to be admitted, they also need to find a way to fund the studying. But as Keo Yary said, she is happy to do this class no matter what – nobody can take away the knowledge she gets from the program.

Good luck to them!


Permalink to Pisey’s Story

Pisey’s Story

Our students often share with me that they really appreciate what our schools provide for them, and they especially thank all of those who donated!

There are too many stories to tell, but here is one that epitomizes how your donations have enhanced the lives of our kids. Last night we had a terrific end of year (Christmas) party at Lakeside School. Our students know how to have a good time, and the community all came together to make things fun.

While I was there a young woman named Pisey approached me. She wanted to speak to me for one reason—to let me know how much and how positively her life had been affected by our help.

Xmas_Lakeside_2013_Pisey

I met Pisey at Lakeside School 2.5 years ago. Though charming and charismatic, she recently had needed to drop out of school and was working in a factory. She was quite attractive, but had a front tooth with significant visible decay.

But she had enough drive to come and study English after a 10 hour day at the factory. After observing her motivation, EYC gave her financial assistance so she could stop working at the factory and start back in school in grade 8. We helped her get her teeth fixed; 4 front teeth needed replacement, and found her part time jobs cleaning houses.

She’s now half way through grade 10, her English is quite good and she has her sights clearly aimed at attending university (where she hopes to become a social worker). She sufficiently impressed her employers so she now supports herself and her family with 4 different cleaning jobs, and no longer requires EYC financial assistance. She says her life is going great. She’s also very busy!

Please help us to help more high-potential young people like Pisey and get them on the track they deserve to be on.While enjoying the excesses of the holidays, we hope you consider sharing with someone like Pisey. You might be glad you did!If you can help please make a donation – the students will be very appreciative. Please make a tax free contribution by clicking here.

Happy Holidays!


Permalink to Lakeside School – a small community school with a big heart!

Lakeside School – a small community school with a big heart!

The Lakeside School is a dynamic learning center in a slum community in Phnom Penh serving 160 students each day. Started in 2008, the successes of students coming from this project show that with a hand up young people can be empowered to obtain quality employment and valuable life skills.

07_Lakeside5Lakeside’s programs include 7 hours of English per day for various levels, computer classes throughout the day and evening, a weekly medical clinic, biweekly trips to the dentist, reading (in their new library), community organizing, as well as weekend activities including leadership development, an under-14 soccer team, yoga, cycling, and field trips. Currently 8 students are given financial support for their high school or university education and EYC’s job placement service is open to all. The kids really enjoy going to class and teachers incorporate life skills training and fun activities into teaching lessons. Outside of the school are tough conditions for living with run-down shanty houses, garbage, people drinking, gambling, and in some cases neglecting children, while inside the mood is cheerful and the staff and volunteers are positive.

Lakeside School is primarily an after-school program since government schools teach only 4 hours each day. During the morning and afternoon students are primary school-age, while in the evening they are in high school and university, as well as youth who have dropped out of school and are working, unemployed, or underemployed. Lakeside has an excellent network of supporting partners, committed Cambodian staff, international and local volunteers, and a student team leader group that volunteers and runs much of the operations of the school. Lakeside is more than a school since it is also a favorite gathering place for like-minded young people who are on their way to somewhere better. The school is open most of the day and serves multiple purposes including a gathering/play area for young kids, it has 2 sinks with soap for anyone to use, books for people to read on-site or borrow, and computers with Internet.

At the heart of the school is some excellent staff including Ky Hao, the English teacher from 6:30 to 8:30pm (2 different levels). He is a graduate of a government university “Institute of Foreign Languages” (IFL) and has a bachelor’s degree in English Teaching. He has a grasp of the English language far beyond most non-native speakers. Ky Hao likes to use current events as part of his lessons which also serve to engage students in social issues happening in their country.

lakeside_43Veng Chenghuor is a 20 year old student who has studied at Lakeside School since 2009. She is now a 2nd year university students and has 2 jobs. Chenghuor says “the best part of Lakeside School is her teacher Ky Hao because he is hard working, has good ethics, makes good lesson plans and asks students lots of questions. He also makes class fun and explains things well.” Another thing she likes is that “the school is close to my house and is free for students in the community to study. It is also a place where the community can have a meeting and children can gather to take action, such as a garbage clean-up.”

EYC has plenty of challenges to be able to work in the chaotic slum environment, but the involvement from the people in the community help to make things go smooth. In 2013-2014 additional students will be awarded scholarships to continue their studies at university and EYC is seeking donors to make this possible.


Permalink to XO Laptop Program Successfully Enters Its Second Year

XO Laptop Program Successfully Enters Its Second Year

The XO is not a “traditional” laptop used as a tool to get things done. It also is not a tool to “just” play games. Rather it can be viewed as a tool that familiarizes children with some of the technology and features used in “traditional” laptops while building knowledge and critical thinking skills. The XO software encourages users to learn through exploration and expression. It engages children in acquiring knowledge based on their interests and allows them to utilize built-in technologies to share and critique their work.

When the Cambodian NGO P.R.I.D.E. (a partner of One Laptop per Child [OLPC]), donated 25 XO laptops to EYC last September, we immediately were excited about the opportunity to enhance the learning experience and foster the technical and information acquiring skills of our younger students via the XO laptop.

The XO was designed and built especially for children in developing countries. It features a screen that is readable under direct sunlight, is energy efficient, and tolerates the high temperatures and humidity of Cambodia. Moreover, it comes complete with a keyboard that has Khmer language character and some software supporting Khmer.

After receiving these laptops we developed and implemented an XO class held thrice a week at our Aziza school for students between 9 and 14 years of age. Given the students’ excitement and learning progress through this program we are now in the process of offering the XO program to students at our Youth School and if enough XO laptops can be obtained, at all EYC schools.

Our students love learning and gaining their first computer experiences with this device. As 10-year old XO student Kirng  Sophy told his teacher, “I like to learn with the XO. Now I know some programs. When I know how to use new programs I feel so happy”.

What excites us most about offering the XOs to our students is the focus on self-directed learning. I firmly believe and have personally observed how it improves a young student’s critical thinking skills and simultaneously fosters empowerment; thus directly supporting EYC’s objectives. Cambodia’s wealthier children often have this type of access, and hopefully soon all interested children in the poor communities EYC serves will have too.

For general program or technical information you may contact Kunthy Teng, our IT Manager at tsokunthy@gmail.com


Permalink to EYC Helps Combat and Educate on Gender Inequalities

EYC Helps Combat and Educate on Gender Inequalities

EYC was delighted to send six of our staff and students to attend a seminar on Gender and Behavior Changes facilitated by GADC (Gender and Development Cambodia); a local NGO promoting gender equality as a “basic human right necessary for Cambodia’s social, economic, and political development”.

Following their experiences and knowledge gained, these participants did their own training for EYC students on gender issues and developed a training class that was conducted over eight sessions at Aziza school, covering topics on Sex & Gender, Gender in Cambodia, Gender-based Violence, and Protection of Women’s Rights.

In the 2010 Global Gender Assessment conducted by USAID, in which the agency measured broad inequalities between women and men (Gender Gap Score), Cambodia placed 104th of 134 countries. The Gender Empowerment Measure (representing women’s political and economic participation) of the same assessment placed Cambodia 83rd of 93 countries.

The goal of this knowledge sharing initiative was to reduce gender-based violence in our target communities and to encourage girls to assume more leadership roles in our schools in addition to helping them to be more empowered and comfortable with openly discussing gender-based stereotypes and injustices.

As a result of this training class students worked together on creating a poster delivering their personal message and position against gender inequalities. Ms. Syneoun, a former student and team leader at Aziza and the course’s facilitator shared, “I was thrilled to participate in the gender training. It is important to improve youth’s concept about stopping violence based on gender and value women at the community level”.

It is encouraging to see how our students are increasingly becoming aware of wide-spread issues affecting their country and are showing self-driven initiative by taking an active role in developing their countries starting at the community level.

We are currently working on replicating this training at our other schools.


Permalink to EYCycling Team Looking for Sponsors

EYCycling Team Looking for Sponsors

EYC’s youth cycling program, “EYCycling” takes top placements at races and is looking for sponsors.

The EYC cycling team (EYCycling) is currently shopping for sponsors at all levels to allow its members to compete at races and pay for the cost of bike maintenance and gear.

The EYCycling team is the latest activity in EYC’s sports program. The team’s fifteen? highly active members are students at the EYC schools and vividly display team work and sportsmanship during their weekly group rides and as participants at bike races across Cambodia.

While EYCycling’s objectives are to promote a healthy lifestyle and bike safety, reduce traffic congestion and noise/air pollution, the members’ competitive nature and thirst for achievement is evident in the twelve top-3 placements the team achieved in races during the first half of this year (in 4 categories).

Since this student initiative is only partially funded by EYC, the team is currently searching for additional corporate/organizational sponsorship to offset the cost of safety gear, bike maintenance, and participation at races.

Depending on the level of sponsorship, sponsors will have their logo or name printed on the team jerseys, race banners, as well as other marketing outlets.

Mr. Heab Sok Huoch can be contacted at sokhuochforyou@yahoo.com for additional information.


Permalink to EYC Launches Job Training and Placement Program

EYC Launches Job Training and Placement Program

A new program steps up placement of students into internship and paid positions with businesses and organizations throughout Phnom Penh.

With Cambodia having the youngest population in Southeast Asia it is no surprise that high youth unemployment rates remain a pressing issue for many of our students. According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) 700 youth enter the labor market in Cambodia every day and compete for the very few opportunities available. While observations ‘on the ground’ show that the reasons for the high youth unemployment are rather complex, there is consensus that improvements in literacy, education, and relevant skills are pertinent for securing steady and sustainable employment.

EYC started our Job Placement Program in April 2012, and has seen great results in a short time. At the core of this program is Mr. Sophea Sor, the program’s coordinator, who establishes and fosters relationships between EYC and local businesses/organizations in order to place qualified and motivated students in internships or paid positions. We are proud to announce that eleven students were placed in internship positions in the first three months. Of those eleven interns, two were offered permanent employment within the first month of their internship. An additional eight students were placed in part time  jobs this year (cleaner, English teacher, and waitress), allowing them to continue their education.

To help EYC’s students be more marketable and successful in their employment search we developed and implemented a comprehensive Job Training Program, which will build on the education EYC is providing to give them marketable skills. The first training class enrolled a total of 48 students across all EYC schools and was held on weekends at the Aziza and Youth Schools

The curriculum focused on finding and analyzing job announcements, cover letters and CV writing, as well interviewing and “how to be a good and productive employee”. We didn’t only want to help our students compete in the job selection processes but also aid them in being an invaluable asset to future employees.

The result is students’ opportunity to apply their freshly-gained knowledge in a “real world scenario”, excel in their internship or employment position, and pave the road for future EYC Job Training graduates to find jobs with the same organization(s). The six week program also included attending the annual Phnom Penh Career Forum and guest speakers such as Nokia’s Sales & Marketing Manager for Cambodia.

Mr. Sophea will conduct monthly follow-up meetings with the graduating class as well as the placed students and their respective managers to ensure ongoing support and the continuous improvement of this program.

EYC plans to offer the Job Training class three times a year and is looking to expand the curriculum to include more professional development topics such as stress, anger, time, and communications management.


Permalink to Community Garbage Clean-Up

Community Garbage Clean-Up

EYC’s Community Organizing Committee raises awareness about how waste management affects their community and conducts a garbage clean-up in one of Phnom Penh’s “slums”.

EYC’s Development and Community Organizing Officer, Ms. Hem Nareth, successfully organized and lead the third garbage clean-up initiative at the “Building Community” in Phnom Penh; the run-down residential building blocks where the Aziza school is located.

This half-day program was divided into three parts:

  1. Creating awareness
  2. The physical clean-up
  3. Post-activity reflection

As part of ‘creating awareness’ the group focused on and illustrated three consequences of improper waste management to the community: The health risks to residents, their reputation/image as perceived by others, and how improving conditions can help stop forced evictions that may be looming.

Given some of the forced evictions and associated hardship experienced by multiple Phnom Penh communities in recent years, the last point resonated strongly with community residents when the community organizing group rallied people with megaphones. Hearing the carefully crafted messages, residents opened their doors and sent their children out to help, resulting in over 100 people joining the effort.

Garbage has long been a problem in this community but has been significantly improved since our community organizing team has put their efforts on this.  Last year a massive clean-up cleared a staircase that had been filled with garbage far beyond usability.  This year we could focus on raising awareness and cleaning smaller pockets of garbage.  Cleaning crews also scrubbed indoor surfaces with soap and water, bringing cheer to old hallways and stairways.

After properly disposing of the collected waste, volunteers, residents, and the village chief met to discuss and reflect on the day’s activities and underlying importance of changing their behavior in this matter. Organizers plan to make signs and art to send a clear message about proper garbage disposal.

In addition to the other services we provide through the Aziza school, EYC is pleased that we could use this opportunity to further engage the community to be active participants in building a better community.


Permalink to EYC Opens 4th School: the Impact School

EYC Opens 4th School: the Impact School

We are excited to report that EYC has opened a new school to serve the underprivileged children of Phnom Penh: the Impact School. Located in a very deserving and poor community on the north side of Phnom Penh, the Impact School is located in a wonderful house that has been vacated to allow us to transform it into a school.

Impact School in Phnom Penh

It is the most pleasant space of all of our schools, with a large bougainville, a tree and courtyard out front, and a spacious room that is the classroom. There is an additional room that we hope to convert to a computer lab, and a loft that is large enough for several people to live (students live in all of our schools).

Impact School in Phnom Penh

The Impact School has been operating on a limited basis for a few months now, providing English classes two hours per day for children in the community. Our goal is to expand to offer the same programs at Impact that we offer at the other three EYC schools. But to add two more hours of English for little kids, two hours of English for teens in the evening, buy computers and have computer training throughout the day, as well as have a medical team come to offer free medical care one evening per week, we need your assistance.

Impact School in Phnom Penh

If we can raise money to roll out our programs in this community, the benefits to these children will be significant. Here’s what we need to make this a reality:
• 6 computers at $200 each.
• An English teacher for kids – $70 per month.
• An English teacher for teenagers in the evenings – $120 per month.
• 2 Computer teachers – $50 per month each.

Please make a donation – it will make a difference in our students being able to find a job!

Impact School in Phnom Penh

With your help, we hope to make the Impact School a full-time resource for the children and community. We hope for and thank you for your continued support!

Impact School in Phnom Penh

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