Cambodian youth are no different. Young people here are agents of change, bringing awareness to community problems and exploring ways to address them.
World Renew and its local partners in Cambodia have facilitated the creation of 23 youth groups in four provinces. In late fall 2017, World Renew organized a camp in Phnom Penh for over forty youth from these clubs. The students were given the task of identifying the number one issue facing youth in their communities. They agreed that the growing use of and addiction to drugs was the most severe threat facing their communities.
After camp, students went back to their villages to conduct surveys to learn more about this issue. Four hundred students explored and discussed the factors underlying drug abuse and its impact on their communities.
World Renew and its partners then selected eight youth, two from each of the provinces where World Renew works, and charged them with identifying these factors at the local level. These 8 students were teamed with another seven students from Liger Leadership Academy, a private, nonprofit, non-political school in Phnom Penh that helps disadvantaged kids get a top-notch education using non-traditional and interactive learning. Together, this group was charged with the task of designing an intervention for addressing the issue of drug use.
Liger Academy’s mission fit well with World Renew’s commitment to facilitating solution-seeking by the the people who need the solution. Trevor Gile, Liger’s founder, says “The most effective form of aid is not a hand out, but a hand up via targeted investment, enabling the local population to overcome social, political, and economic hurdles on their own. Those closest to a problem are typically those who are most able to solve it when provided with the tools to do so.”
The World Renew youth began their exploration by living with the Liger students for one week on their campus and working together on the drug awareness project.
Their week together included visits to the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) and a rehab center, where the youth saw firsthand the crippling effects of drug use. One World Renew youth said that upon entering the rehab center she was speechless. She wasn’t aware drugs were so addicting.
The team created a Drug Intervention Campaign consisting of:
- identifying the villages in the 4 provinces (Kampot, Svay Rieng, Kampong Speu, and Prey Veng) where the campaign was to be conducted;
- obtaining signs, brochures, and pamphlets from the National Authority for Combating Drugs for distribution to participants;
- creating announcements to get the word out about the dangers of drug abuse;
- working with World Renew partners, Commune Council, local authorities, and other stakeholders to create awareness of the campaign;
- creating and filming a video to show the dangers of drug use; and
- developing a workshop to educate the village communities about drug use with a Q&A session to keep the entire workshop is interactive.
The campaign culminated in a half day workshop developed and led by a team of World Renew youth from each province and Liger students.
In order to promote the event, village leaders were engaged and the youth went door to door. Their grassroots effort paid off with many of the workshops seeing almost 100 attendees across all age groups! We believe this success was in part because the students are themselves members of the affected communities. This gave the campaign more legitimacy and residents, who may not have paid attention to an outsider, listened and participated.
At the workshops, students led the event from start to finish. They broke the attendees into four small groups, rotating them through stations focused on the following: where do drugs come from; what drugs are available in Cambodia; how to identify if someone is using drugs; and what are the effects of drug use. Their interactive format engaged the community members who made their way from station to station, laughing and learning.
Yoon Pu, a resident of Chhumpu Prek village in Kampong Speu, was encouraged after attending the workshop. Her nephew was imprisoned for drug use and the experience changed his life. Ms. Pu told attendees about her own experience with her nephew, entreating them to stay away from drugs.
The workshops ended with a Q&A session. Here, attendees could show their knowledge about all they learned during the small group discussions.
The workshops were attended by a representative from World Renew partner OREDA2, a Commune Council member, a local authority member, and the school director, all of whom commended the students for designing and running the event.
The World Renew youth and Liger students are making a difference and other villages are noticing — at least two have asked for workshops in their communities.
At Liger Academy, they say “one empowered individual is capable of changing the world around them.” The collaboration between World Renew youth and Liger students bears that out. Empowered, these young people produced an effective anti-drug campaign with a framework for expansion to other parts of Cambodia. By asking students to identify and address an issue of major social concern, World Renew and Liger Academy are embracing the belief of Liger’s leadership that, with 40% of Cambodia’s population under 24 years old, “Liger students aren’t waiting for tomorrow. They are changing their country now.”
Pray for Cambodia
- Praise for the way the staff have adjusted to our new office and prayers for all the transitions we are facing as we prepare for the end of our funding from Mission Alliance in December 2018.
- Pray for God’s hand on the eight church partners that will be phased out of a full partnership with World Renew by the end of June. Pray that they will continue their community development work in the 34 communities where they work. Pray for a sustained relationship between World Renew and these churches through the learning network Christian Learning Circle for Community Development Association.
- Pray for the process of identifying new church partners in the areas where our NGO partners are working and for the new partnerships that will be formed. Pray that through this process World Renew Cambodia will bring hope, knowledge, and skills to strengthen these congregations, the communities they serve, and God’s kingdom in Cambodia.
- Pray that God’s hand will be on World Renew Cambodia as we search for new funding opportunities for our NGO partners.
- Praise for the amazing empowerment of 400 youth in the 23 youth clubs that World Renew and our partners have developed. We give thanks for the successful youth camp we organized in early April. We are thankful for the support of the Under Secretary of State for the Ministry of Rural Development, who drove the 6 hours to the camp to participate in the closing of the event.
- We lift up our work in constituency engagement. We give thanks for many new partnerships established on Kathleen’s recent trip to Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. We pray for good connections to be made on Kathleen’s upcoming trip to North America. We ask that our Discovery Tour, planned for November 1-11, 2018, be filled and that at least two short-term mission trips are planned for 2018-19.
- We lift up the evaluation now being conducted of our 10-year project with Mission Alliance. Pray that there is good learning from the evaluation and that it accurately captures the way that God transformed so many lives through the project.
World Renew Cambodia