Cambodia’s future depends on its young people. 26% of the population is between 15 and 25 years old (Australia: 13.7%).
Andong, Cambodia 15km from the capital city, Phnom Penh
Andong is a community of 8,000 people. In 2006, they were forcibly evicted from their homes in Phnom Penh to make their land available for a property developer.
In Andong there is little access to: Safe housing Clean water Sanitation Healthcare
Since their parents are unable to pay for their education, few young people complete high school. Many get involved with the wrong crowd.
Vannak 17 year old Vannak is one of the exceptions. He is in Year 9 at high school. He is also a talented silk screen printer. This is his story of how he learnt his skill at the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) run by Caritas Australia’s partner, Youth for Peace.
When he was 15, Vannak’s parents were both unwell and borrowed money to feed the family. Vannak left school and found work to help support his family.
“I worked as a construction worker and earned around 12,000 Riels ($3) per day. Most of the money I earned I gave to my parents to help them pay off their debts.”
Vannak describes his life at this time as “like a raft that was floating in the river without a direction.”
Then some of Vannak’s friends told him about the Youth Empowerment Project. Vannak went along because he thought that he would have something to eat and have fun with his friends.
He soon found that the project offered much more than that. He learnt how to do silk screen printing, and found he was very good at it!
Vannak can earn up to $10 for an order. “I started to love my work because I could use the money to pay for my study and the remainder to support my family. Now I am a team leader of Silk Screen Printing at YEP with six members.”
1 in 2 children drop out of school in Cambodia. Vannak says he has a new appreciation of the value of education since joining the YEP project.
“I wish I could help them all. I used to be without hope when I dropped out of school but people were very surprised when they saw me going back to school (after I joined the YEP project). I would like to tell other young people… how education is so valuable for me.”
Since it was founded in 1999, Youth for Peace has helped more than 50,000 young people in and around Phnom Penh.
With your support for Project Compassion, Youth for Peace and other Caritas Australia partners can continue to help disadvantaged young people in more than 30 countries to find their way to a brighter future.
Join us in Project Compassion: Let’s work together for justice and a brighter world.