National Association of Cambodian Scouts
By Kimchhel Theng and Chan Sok
“Do at least one good thing every day,” is the slogan of Scouts around the world.
The National Association of Cambodian Scouts (NACS) is a group that is open to all children and teenagers who want to get involved in activities that make positive changes to society.
Scouts can be found at nearly every school and university in Phnom Penh and many others in the countryside. They work to develop the nation through various activities such as repairing roads, planting trees and harvesting rice.
“Nowadays, there are more than 20,000 members across the country,” said Lak Samath, secretary general of the NACS and acting director general of youth and sports at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.
The first scout troop was founded in 1934 under Prince Monireth, and scouts have come and gone in the Kingdom ever since.
They sputtered to life in 1972, 1986 and 1993, but they are bigger today than ever before.
The NACS are under control of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Cabinet Sok An.
While Sam Rainsy Party spokeman Yim Sovann says that having CPP leaders makes the association “inevitably biased towards the CPP”, the scouts themselves said their involvement in the organisation has nothing to do with politics.
“After becoming a scout, I got a lot of knowledge and benefits, such as being involved in society, making friends and improving my communication skills with other people”, said San Chakriya, a student at Chea Sim Chamroeun Rath High School.
The Association of Kratie Students
By Kimchhel Theng
The Association of Kratie Students (AKS) was created in 2003 to give students from Kratie province a chance to continue their studies in Phnom Penh, but has since opened to any student who wants to advance their education in the capital. Students can enhance their skills for free in short courses on technology, spoken English, marketing and finances. There are currently around 400 students studying with AKS.
“Staff members working with our association do not get salaries, but they do get experience,” said AKS manager Sar Kinal, adding that today there are around 30 staff members at the association; most of whom are university students. Sar Kinal credits his volunteering experience with preparing him for his other positions as a lecturer at Pannasastra University of Cambodia, and as a consultant for the Ministry of Finance and other private companies.
Im Chankrasna, the deputy secretary-general of the association, said that AKS helps students learn to communicate with people, improving their skills, confidence and ability to manage. After volunteering with the organisation he is now a manager at APLUS School for Professionals and a data entry operator.
In order to get involved, students need to bring a cover letter and a CV to the association and sit for a short interview. Staff will have an opportunity to work within the centre as well as join outreach programmes and other activities.
Good News Corps
By Mesa Lang
Founded in 2002 by the International Youth Fellowship Educational Foundation, the Good News Corps (GNC) has become one of the biggest overseas volunteer programmes for international students who wish to broaden their views of the world and set an example for a new generation of youth to engage in improving their society.
The Good News Corps, whose motto is “exchange your youth for their hearts”, creates opportunities for students to go overseas for one year in order to engage with every part of a foreign culture: language, cuisine, music, architecture, sport and traditional performances.
In the past eight years more than 2,000 students have devoted one year of their lives to serve in over 80 countries around the world. But while Cambodia has received many volunteers through the International Youth Fellowship (IYF), this will be the first year that Cambodia sends volunteers abroad (the deadline for applicants is July 23). “This is the first time that IYF in Cambodia is cooperating with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to send Cambodian youth to the United States of America and South Korea,” said Y Sengly, the program manager for IYF in Cambodia.
Through activities like visiting hospitals and retirement homes, youth and community outreach programmes and journeys to remote areas, volunteers are able to deeply touch the lives of others.
Support Children and Young People
By Kim Sam Ath and Noy Kimhong
While many people might think that watching TV is a waste of time, it really depends on what you watch. Support Children and Young People (SCY) is an organisation that has given young Cambodians the opportunity to produce more than 290 documentaries on issues that impact them.
According to Em Chan Makara, programmes produced by SCY are valuable to both the young people making them and those watching them. “In my organisation, all the young reporters produce fruitful programmes, which provide opportunities to children and young people in Cambodia to raise their concerns, speak out and voice their interests to national and international audiences through the media,” he said.
SCY gives children and young people a chance to participate in media advocacy through Youth Today, a television magazine produced by Cambodian youth for Cambodian youth and broadcast every week on CTN.
With ongoing backing from UNICEF, SCY offers training, mentoring, production help, equipment, transport and administrative support – all required to bring stories to life. Youth reporters are expected to research stories around Phnom Penh and the provinces to produce documentaries on the situation of children and young people across the Kingdom.
In 2009 SCY won the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting Award (ICDB) for Southeast Asia. “I hope Youth Today’s success in winning the ICDB regional award in 2009, will encourage all TV stations in Cambodia to dedicate time for broadcasting Youth Today free of charge so it can continue to inspire and encourage Cambodian youth, especially young reporters, to show their achievements to the public,” Em Chan Makara said.
The Beach Clean Up Project
By Mesa Lang
The Beach Clean Up Project, which is organized by ENRICH, a group of English-speaking youth at the Institute of Foreign Languages, was started to celebrate World Environment Day. This year 47 volunteers came together to spruce up Ochheuteal beach in Sihanoukville on June 5 and 6.
The efforts were not only meant to clean up the beach, but also to spread information to local youth and vendors, as well as tourists about the impact of pollution, and to encourage them to play more active roles in protecting the environment.
Project participants also designed posters and logos on rubbish bins and then celebrated a hard day’s work by playing beach games and joining in other team-building activities.
“We believe that this campaign encourages a better understanding of the environment among the people we reach out to,” said Sarin Sirivudh, the co-facilitator of ENRICH. He added that people involved can go on to set up clean-up projects in their own communities.
“This is a great opportunity to socialise with people,” said Hang Sopheak, a participant from the Royal University of Law and Economics.
“I believe that I will be able to learn skills such as leadership, communication, problem solving and teamwork from my peers.”
ENRICH provides participants with both memorable experiences and an opportunity to improve their understanding of environmental issues, problem solving and teamwork.
Cambodian Volunteers for Society
By Cheng Lita
Cambodian Volunteers for Society (CVS) was created in 2005 to provide opportunities for Cambodian youth to unlock their potential in order to make positive contributions to the development of Cambodian society. It was started by a the Department of Environmental Science (DES) at the Royal University of Phnom Penh and the Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT), and is funded by Urban Poor Development Funds (UPDF) and Thai Volunteers Services (TVS).
CVS focuses mostly on environmental work with activities such as the conservation of forests, fisheries and wildlife. The projects undertaken by CVS always bring together local people to share their knowledge with the volunteers, so that together they can find solutions to the unique problems faced in different parts of the country.
By empowering communities to help themselves, people living in these areas will be more likely participate in the decision-making process and efforts to develop their home provinces in a sustainable way.
“We believe that youth have a great potential to improve society via volunteering,” said Som Monorum, a graduate youth volunteers for community development officer.
“It can be helpful to humanity and social development, and moreover they (volunteers) can learn from real life and improve future practices.”