Cambodian youth are willing to help, develop and improve their society and people. Not only the young people in Phnom Penh city, who do fund raising to help the poor, injured and dead and improve communities in rural areas and protect the environment, but the Social Development Volunteering Team at Battambang province as well.
Social Development Volunteering Team, or SDVT, was started by the Initiative of Change Association (ICA) two years ago. The ICA was created in 2005 and it aims to allow people to exchange ideas, improve knowledge, share and find solutions to problems. It also provides short course for its members in job hunting and it also encourages young people to do things to help their country.
The ICA has more than 18 members, while the SDVT has only 14 members. The SDVT plays a more important role than the ICA since they have the same goal.
Hong Chanraty, 20, a team leader of SDVT, said the main things her team aims for is to encourage the youth to protect our environment, do generous programming and build capacity.
“I want to see more youths get involved with this team,” she said.
Chanraty added that working with SDVT, people do not get salaries or funds, but people can help society through sharing or contributing their own money and time.
“So far the SDVT have done fund raising at markets and universities in Battambang and we have collected around 20,000 riels to run our programmes,” she said. “We bring that money to help poor children, patients, old people and also bought second-hand clothes, food and put rubbish bins in pagodas and schools.”
Besides, helping people, SDVT also helps Cambodia’s environment.
“We buy small trees to plant the tree to protect the environment,” Yim Chanda, 26, a facilitator of SDVT, said. “We also collect rubbish along the roads and especially along Sour Kheng garden.”
Chanda added that it is a good example for others to protect our environment, but some people do not care and they still throw rubbish on the ground.
“I feel very happy participating in the SDVT because I can help poor children, old people and our environment,” he said. “We should not wait for the future to help our environment and country – we should start now.”
Although the SDVT has been able to help people, it also has its struggles and challenges.
Bun Vathanathon, 20, a core member of the SDVT, said the biggest problem is money.
“It is not easy to collect money from people. When we do fund raising along roads, markets and universities, people are not willing to contribute money to us,” Vathanathon said. “We have to be patient and struggle in order to reach our goal.”
She added that even though it is very difficult, she and the others in SDVT have never wanted to give up.
“Sometime we cry together while the donors refuse to contribute their money and then they also accuse us of doing fund raising for different purposes,” she said.
However, she said that she and the others feel very happy when the team sees children, patients and old people smile to them while they bring money to buy food, clothes and other things for them.