CAMBODIA – Fifty percent of the population of Cambodia is under the age of 24. What a lot of potential for developing more resilient, transformed, and healthy Cambodian communities! But the Cambodian public education system is struggling, especially in rural areas.
Teachers’ salaries are low. Technology is meager. Classes are large. And the education system has not yet been able to educate in ways that successfully develop critical and analytical thinking skills.
World Renew and its local partners see youth clubs as an opportunity to support the development of these skills, teaching youth to ask good questions, to identify and solve issues, and to become agents of change in their communities. In the four provinces where it is working. World Renew has facilitated the creation of 22 youth clubs in rural communities.
In June, these clubs met at a youth camp to work on a big challenge. The young people were asked to identify issues and opportunities in their communities and then design and implement projects to address these critical issues. Talk about a great opportunity to develop critical thinking skills!
The youth of our rural clubs have found a true partner in an unlikely location: a school in the big city of Phnom Penh called the Liger Learning Center. In working with Cambodian youth, World Renew has faced a daunting question: How can we develop critical thinking skills in communities where there is very little technology, where the only source of power is often a motorcycle battery, and where the youth must often travel across paddy fields to reach a youth club meeting?
Liger has answered this challenge by identifying high-potential young people from across Cambodia and providing them with an alternative approach to education at their center in Phnom Penh.The goal of Liger’s founder has been to create agents of change for Cambodia and that is happening: Liger students have published books, won international awards for the apps they have developed, and created successful businesses.
So when World Renew learned about Liger Learning Centre, we were intrigued. When we visited, we were impressed. And when Liger agreed to partner with World Renew’s efforts to support youth in rural Cambodia as they become agents of change, we were thrilled.
Now Liger students and facilitators work together with World Renew youth club members, spending time in both the city and in rural communities. The partnership allows each cohort invaluable experience and access while accomplishing work of real value to the communities of the youth clubs. Over the last year, this collaboration has addressed drug addition, child nutrition, and visual impairment.
Youth clubs created an intervention to address drug addiction complete with a video, a presentation, and discussion groups that has been implemented in two communities for 200 villagers. They have also prepared and implemented an intervention to support mothers and grandmothers in providing nutritious food for young children. They are working together with Sight Cambodia to facilitate access to life-changing eye surgery by foreign eye doctors for villagers with visual impairments. Future projects include improving use of technology in rural communities and teaching financial literacy.
In October, Liger students and World Renew youth club members documented histories of four rural communities. As students gained and practiced invaluable skills — project design and implementation, research, data-collection, video production, photo book publishing, website development, and verbal presentation — they also provided communities with experiences that have fostered pride in and excitement about their history. After the student presentation, one village chief said “It makes me so excited! I feel very proud to be part of this community. I can hardly wait to show the photo book to my family.”
- World Renew and its partners will finish well at the end of this year a 10-year project funded by Mission Alliance.
- Our partners will find other donors to fund their work and manage that transition smoothly.
- Communities who have benefitted from this decade-long project will experience sustained empowerment and transformation.
- Four other proposals related to work we’ve done with Mission Alliance funding will be met with financial support so that work can be sustained and even expanded.
- For the Discovery Tour taking place here November 2 –12, that visitors will be enriched by what they see and learn and that the communities they visit will be blessed by the interest and support of people from the other side of the world.
Thank God with us:
- World Renew and OREDA (our local Cambodian partner, the Occupational Rural Economic and Development Association) have new funding support for our work with the 22 youth clubs that have been established over the last two years.
- Roy Berkenbosch’s visit to Cambodia in October was successful. He met with community churches that will be engaged in the work of our local partners and led a powerful workshop for the leaders of these churches and the Christian learning circle supported by World Renew to better understand the biblical foundations of our work in supporting the poor and addressing injustice. Roy also helped World Renew to facilitate a process for launching these churches as new partners for two of our local partners working in Kampot and Svey Rieng.
- For the September arrival of Phil Marfisi as a volunteer to World Renew Cambodia for 5 months. Phil raised funds to hire a counterpart, Boramay, whose language, development, and interpersonal skills are wonderful assets to World Renew.
World Renew Cambodia