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Meet the young mentors helping Cambodian children

In rural communities in Cambodia, many children miss out on a quality education.

This not only denies them future employment opportunities, but can result in high-risk activities, such as migrating to neighbouring countries for work where they are vulnerable to exploitation.

ChildFund Cambodia is helping to address this issue through its education projects in Battambang, which is close to the border of Thailand.

By working in partnership with local communities, ChildFund’s education team is helping to implement child and youth-led groups which empower young people in decision-making.

These youth groups help to report child-related abuse cases, monitor students’ school attendance, assist students who are falling behind their peers, and collect essential survey data that is used to make informed decisions.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, these youth groups have also played a leading role in raising awareness about the virus and ensuring children understand the measures they need to take to stay safe.

Young people are helping each other stay on track

Vy, 26, is a member of the youth group in his area

Vy, 26, was 15 years old when he finished his education because his school was too far away.

It’s a decision he has regretted since, which is why he dedicates his time to ensuring that other young people have the opportunity to stay in school.

Vy volunteers in ChildFund’s youth group, where he helps mentor the younger generation of children in his community.

“I am happy to see positive change in my community from the work we have done together with ChildFund,” Vy says.

Vy barely recognises the school he left a decade ago, and the attitude of young people has changed too.

Vy said teenagers used to be disillusioned with education and often turned to harmful activities.

“The schools today have a nice environment, modern learning materials and dedicated teachers,” Vy said. “If ChildFund was here when I was younger I would have finished school.”

Vy has noticed a difference in the new generation of youth in the Battambang communities where ChildFund works.

Sreyroeun, 16 years old, a member of the group.

Teenagers like 16-year-old Sreyroeun (pictured above) are more empowered and want to give back to their community.

“During my break time, I teach a few of the younger kids at school who could not read well,” she said.

Sreyroeun is also part of the youth-led group, and she sees it as her duty to help improve her community.

The group has committed members like Ramy (pictured below), who often travels 20 or 30km by motorbike to teach children at school.

Girl and motorbike outside house

“I don’t get paid, but I get a lot of experience and knowledge that no school would teach.

“I am happy to do such volunteering because it helps improve my society,” she says.

“I’ve learned a lot doing this too.”

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