When the COVID-19 outbreaks started, we were fearful of how we could continue our programs and support our team and youth. For many organizations, the fundraising landscape changed dramatically, as money generators like tour groups, festivals, and exchanges became impossible.
At PEPY, a considerable percentage of our annual scholarship and admin funding came from tour groups and our school partnerships and we were scrambling to find funding resources. While we have a robust grants program, most foundations are not interested in supporting overhead and scholarship programs. When we turned our attention to online events, we were not sure what to expect. We imagined that we would be relying solely on the generosity of our international community and that raising funds in-country would not be possible.
However, we quickly realized that our thinking was wrong! COVID-19 has shown us that the Cambodian community is incredibly strong and becoming increasingly self-reliant. With the ongoing outbreaks and flooding, Cambodian people donated millions to important causes, ensuring people did not go hungry while providing people shelter and medical aid.
By marketing ourselves nationally, we found there are Cambodian investors and people who believe in what we do and want to support our work. Despite the economic challenges they must be facing, we were honored to have increased support from local corporate donors in our recent events. These partners have helped us to continue running our organization and are proving to be fantastic resources for our scholars and alumni to find work during these difficult times.
Campaint, Rotha Leading, and Hata Angkor Construction have consistently donated to our events and volunteered as speakers in our programs over the last two years. We reached out to Hata and Rotha to learn more about their commitment to PEPY and why they think investing in social development should be a priority for Cambodian business owners.
Hata Angkor Construction
Hata Angkor is a company that sells all kinds of construction materials, located in Krous Village, Svay Dangkum Commune, Siem Reap District, Siem Reap Province. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is affecting their current business every day with declining sales and recently, they had to reduce staff salaries.
PEPY and Hata Angkor have had a professional partnership since 2017, as many of our scholars are hired by them. Recently, they also decided to become a donor in our last two Our Story events (December 2019, June 2021).
Hata explained, “I think it is important to help the younger generation to have the opportunity to learn and develop more. This is an opportunity to make a small contribution so that young people can fulfill their dreams and change for the better, and I really enjoy working in partnership with PEPY. With our help, this is only a small part, cannot make much change, but what I expect is that we will get good human resources and seize opportunities as a partner going forward together well. I am happy to share and currently, there is no partner other than PEPY.”
She also shared that she genuinely likes seeing the music concerts coming together. “I think all these events are good, especially the first one because I was directly involved and got a lot of information and was very pleased to be present at the event,’’ she mentioned.
By contributing to us, they believe that more businesses will want to become involved in social change. She said, “We are happy to support and encourage other businesses to share the budget to promote change to the next generation.”
Rothaleading is a center for leadership research to create more leaders! Their mission is “Empowering Greatness for Cambodian People”. “Rotha” is the name of the founder and “Leading” refers to the commitment toward leadership. There are 2 objectives that led to the formation of Rothaleading:
1) to research and study about the leadership; and
2) to involve creating leaders. They believe everyone can study and become leaders.
Rotha’s work is greatly aligned with PEPY’s vision for a greater Cambodia and they were an organization we were excited to showcase in our events. He first heard about our organization when the former PEPY Executive Director, Sarakk, attended one of their Leadership Debates in 2019. Additionally, he met PEPY’s new Executive Director, Ms. Khouth Sochampawatd, who used to participate in the Leadership Debate Events.
Just like PEPY and many other organizations, Rothaleading was impacted by COVID-19.
Hor Chanratha shared, “For our work, its effects on the implementation which we cannot do what we want or plan to do. We worry about the safety of participants and ourselves. We have cancelled many public events including Leadership Event and Leadership Debate due to the COVID. However, we create small event online instead.”
Despite this, when asked if he wanted to be a donor for our upcoming Our Story International Benefit Concert he did not hesitate. He wanted to donate because of the relationships between these two organizations and the good communication between himself and our Executive Director, Ms. Khouth Sochampawatd. “Because she moved from the Phnom Penh city, leaving her lovely family to continue working on the PEPY missions, which it inspires me to be part of supporting this organization,” he shared.
“I feel very proud of PEPY Empowering Youth that organize the event to support underserved or rural youths to continue their dreams. My support is little; however, I feel like this little helps could push more people to donate to local NGOs. Which I think is a gathering strategy to get more people involved in the generous support to youth.”
When asked why he donates to community development works, he shared his belief that supporting NGOs ultimately benefits everyone. He said, “In general, in the society has 2 powers, positive power, and negative power. When we join to do a good activity, it leads to the peaceful society, economic growth, and safely smiled environment. Moreover, when we join and support the community, it is not only to benefit them directly but also to message to outside society to perform well behaves/actions in order to maintain positivity in the community. If good things do not exist, evil will. The biggest positivity is love, respect, help each other as parents love their children unconditionally.
I usually say “Good deeds are not ignored, Evil is unvalued”. If we do not do good things, always doing selfish activities (think only about themselves, ignore others), what happens when we die, who think or cares about our children because we do not create helping communities. If we care about our neighborhoods, they will be taking care back to our family, children, and relatives. As the Buddha taught “Which seed you grow, you will get its fruits” We do good things because we are good people so that we will create a community with generosity.”
Lastly, Hor Chanratha believes that other Cambodians should continue supporting local and established NGOs. “This is because if a person wants to run the project [NGOs] himself, we will need to spend on salary, employee recruitment, and a lot of time to work on, but if there is an existing NGOs and its skilled staff to work on this area already, as a Cambodian we could help to donate and helping. So, it will show to other countries that Cambodian helps each other, not just only people from other countries. I see this as a value because foreigners are living far away from us. When Cambodians helps each other, it is more sustainable.”
**We would also like to give an honorable mention to our other local organizations who contributed their time and services for June’s Our Story event:
Sambo Khmer and Thai Restaurant, Siem Reap Property Services, New Leaf Eatery, 60 Road Studios, FCC Angkor by Avani, Korki Foundation, and Doursanak.
Thank you to the Khmer community for believing in a better future for Cambodia, and working alongside our team to make every youth’s dream a reality. We hope to feature more amazing partners in the future!