Sovong is one of the 2014 intake of PEPY Empowering Youth Scholarship students. Like all of the Scholarship students at PEPY, Sovong comes from Kralanh district, a rural area located some 60km away from Siem Reap town.
Kralanh is a remote and rural district with limited access to education, where many families depend on subsistence rice farming to earn a living. As a result of the district’s proximity to the Thai border, there are also many young people who choose to migrate illegally to Thailand in search of work. The prospect of earning a comparatively large amount of money in a short time can prove tempting to many, and they sacrifice their education – and quite possibly a sustainable future – in favor of short-term, yet unsustainable, economic gain. In addition to this economic downside, illegal migration is extremely dangerous and full of risks. PEPY Empowering Youth works to promote the value of education in Kralanh district, thereby increasing the number of young people who gain access to skilled employment.
Before becoming a Scholarship student, Sovong had difficulty communicating with others and struggled with his self-confidence. At school, he felt nervous about standing up in front of his peers in class when they had to do presentations or talks. Sovong also experienced a challenge that many young people from rural areas have in common – the challenge of discovering professions and opportunities outside of those that are traditional in their own communities. Although he was aware that there were other possibilities beyond farming or illegal migration, Sovong had no strategy for pursuing such possibilities and ultimately securing a bright, safe future for himself. He thought that, upon finishing high school, he would follow the tradition of migrating to Thailand.
Sovong applied for the PEPY Empowering Youth Scholarship program and, to his own surprise, was successful in gaining a place. He now studies Economics at Build Bright University in Siem Reap and he is in his second year at the PEPY Learning Center. Here, he receives classes in Youth Empowerment, English and ICT, a subject which he has developed a real passion for. He has made incredible progress in ICT and is now confident in using a huge range of programs, such as Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint, Adobe Photoshop, and Internet Explorer. Sovong is confident that his skills and enthusiasm for ICT will help him secure a good job in the future.
Sovong is very proud of what he has achieved so far, and PEPY Empowering Youth is, too! We look forward to following his progress and seeing what exciting experiences he will have in the future.