CAMBODIA: Expanded Youth Hostel and New Water Tower Bring Sustainability and Hope to Youth in Need
(MissionNewswire) With Cambodia’s long history of violence, almost a quarter of Cambodians still live in poverty, according to the World Bank. Many reside in the country’s most rural areas. Rural Cambodians make up about 80 percent of the population and have the most limited access to education, healthcare and other public services.
Today, close to a quarter of Cambodians over the age of 15 are illiterate. Seasonal food shortages leave close to 75 percent of the population without the proper nutrition they need. With very little access to education, poor youth find it especially challenging to break the cycle of poverty.
Salesians have a long history of working with poor youth in Cambodia. Continuing this work, the Don Bosco Technical School in Kep Province celebrated the official opening of an expanded youth hostel and a brand new water tower.
Currently there are 192 students at Don Bosco Technical School taking courses in audiovisual production, web development, IT & English, office administration, art communication, agriculture, electrical work and hotel skills. In the evening, informal courses are offered to youth from nearby villages in English language skills, computers and the internet. Gender equality is important at the school where every educational section is required to include both male and female students.
The Don Rua Youth Hostel on the campus of the technical school, has been in operation for some time now and was originally sponsored by the Sioch Group and the Government of the Netherlands. It was created to welcome groups of youth from other provinces coming to enjoy the hillside landscape and sea views of Kep while attending special meetings or vacationing. The hostel’s original mission has been preserved while expanding to include a school restaurant and stage on the ground floor and an art communication facility and hostel on the first floor. The school restaurant was possible thanks to the support of the European Patent Office and can hold more than 500 people.
The new Mary Help of Youth Water Tower is part of the Water System Project for the technical school and was made possible by donors through Don Bosco Mondo in Bonn, Germany. Its construction will guarantee water for this large educational community for years to come. Most people in the region utilize well water and this tower, constructed by a group of volunteers, will go significantly deeper than the average well and has two reserve tanks to hold additional water. Using green technologies, the water pump is generated by installed solar panels.
“Salesians are always looking to expand their services to meet the needs of local youth,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “It is more than just construction of new buildings, it is also program expansion to provide better and more diverse educational opportunities so youth can learn skills and trades to find employment and have hope for the future.”
The Salesians continue to make a difference in the lives of poor and marginalized youth throughout Cambodia. In partnership with the United Nations, they began providing technical vocational education to Cambodian refugees living in camps along the Thai-Cambodian border in the late 1980s. Later, Salesians partnered with the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Education to open seven vocational training centers. Currently, approximately 1,300 youth are enrolled in one and two year vocational training programs in Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh, Toul Kork, Teuk Thla, Battambang, Kep, and Poipet.
World Bank – Cambodia