Empowering youth to be future leaders
12 Mar 2013 | Blog | Cambodia | Project Compassion
“Through this program, I am able to help many Cambodian young people to have hope for the future and to address their personal goals” says Ean Socheth, Program Manager of Youth for Peace, Cambodia.
Socheth recently travelled to Australia to speak about the Youth Empowerment Project (featured in week 4 of Project Compassion). Lilian Chan from Caritas Australia asked him about his work.
For many of us, it’s hard to image what it would be like to live in a slum. Infrastructure is minimal. There’s little certainty about your future. The cost of transport to the city, where most jobs are, is more than what you would earn.
Socheth explained that this is what many young people in Andong Village face. It’s a life that leads them to do nothing productive or get involved with gangs, drugs and other illegal activities, rather than attending school or work.
The Youth Empowerment Project
“Youth for Peace believes that Cambodian youth can be good future leaders” says Socheth. However, he says that too many young people in the slums today feel a sense of hopelessness.
This is why the life-skill training component of the Youth Empowerment Project is so important. Socheth said that when the program first began, many participants didn’t have any goals in life. However, through the program’s life-skills training, young people are being taught important skills like how to set personal goals, how to communicate, and how to deal with negative influences and peer pressure.
“The project has contributed to the improvement of the quality of life of underprivileged groups, particularly young people who have been pushed into poverty and lack future prospects,” he said.
So the participants don’t feel pressured to drop out of school to support their families, the program also assists parents through small business technical support and grants. This holistic approach is one of the key strengths of the program:
“By providing a wide range of activities for young people and their families… it has enabled young people and their families to address basic human needs, to develop and pursue their future goals, to handle issues in their studies, families and community, and to develop vocational skills that allow for income generation.”
Despite the ongoing challenges of keeping young people committed to the program, Socheth said “I am proud to be part of this program as it has given me a chance to fulfil my obligation of being a Cambodian citizen. Through this program, I am able to help many Cambodian young people to have hope for the future and to address their personal goals.”
To Caritas Australia supporters...
Socheth is thankful to Caritas Australia supporters. He said:
“I really love the theme of the Project Compassion this year - ‘Open Doors into the Future’. It is meaningful for underprivileged young people in my country or other poor countries, because it brings more hope, and encourages them to become involved in social development. Truthfully, I can say that whatever your contribution, you always give with your love and compassion; so it can make our world change towards a more just and peaceful place. Your contribution does make a difference in the lives of the poorest of the poor.”
The Youth Empowerment Program is run by Youth for Peace in Andong village, the largest slum in Cambodia and only 15km from Phnom Penh city. The program aims to help improve the quality of life of underprivileged young people through life-skill and vocational training. Their goal is to increase youth employment, as well as build a sense of responsibility and solidarity in youth.
Read Vannak’s story to see how the Youth Empowerment Program has changed his life
Back to blog