by Allegra Mangione, GoPhil Development & Marketing Coordinator

PEPY is leveraging community input, collaboration with other NGOs, and creative ingenuity to respond to their community’s ever-evolving needs, surpass obstacles, and help students and families stabilize financially.

As more students became unemployed this fall, PEPY prioritized stipends and food programs to reduce students’ daily costs and help them stay in Siem Reap. Staying in Siem Reap is fundamental to PEPY students’ continuing their education. It helps them access wifi for online education and also provides exposure to job opportunities.

“PEPY monthly stipends have huge profit to me. I can pay my rent room, electricity, some food, and I can continue my online classes in Siem Reap. Moreover, it helps make it easier for me to get back into a job by staying in Siem Reap. And I am really happy that I can meet my teacher and my lovely students. A big thanks to PEPY and supporters.” – Reamskey

Financial prospects for students are starting to improve. At the end of November, only 22 PEPY scholars were unemployed, compared to 28 in September. Additionally, recycled home gardens are helping students cut down their daily expenses. Two months after PEPY’s training on how to grow at home gardens, students are harvesting their first yield.

One of the students, Pha, remarked:

“Urban gardening is pretty good [to] help me reduce my daily spending on vegetables as I need to eat vegetables every day. It also provided me good health with no chemical vegetables. After study[ing] I take all my time to look after them because it also helps me to reduce stress and get fresh feeling. And a big thanks for supporting me with seeds and containers. I would like to plant them more.”

Solutions stabilize families and communities amid floods.

During these unprecedented times, PEPY also extended support to the community and has connected with 30 community leaders across three districts to gather information on community needs and collaborate on how to best support families and communities. Connecting with community leaders helps PEPY provide the most needed services in each community.

As part of their COVID-19 rapid response, PEPY outfitted 12 families with chicken coops to raise chickens as a source of income and food security and helped families plant vegetable gardens. However, the recent devastating flooding made the community leaders and PEPY realize that the chickens may not be the most sustainable solution for the area. PEPY’s Food Access intern, Lada, decided to introduce frogs farming as a sustainable food security solution with minimal risks. Frog farmers will start with 500 tadpoles, and when they are successful, pay it forward by giving neighbors tadpoles so that they can farm, too. In November, PEPY hosted a training with families from the Varin district, where they learned how to make frog food, build cages, care for sick frogs, and recognize pregnant frogs. Unfortunately, families will have to wait to receive their frogs as it is the wrong time of year to buy tadpoles.

Until the communities can receive their frogs, PEPY is building chicken coops for ten more families. The 12 families with existing chicken coops are beginning to see a return. They are getting 12-24 eggs per week, and all families reported sharing with their neighbors. 

Thida’s family received a chicken coop from PEPY. Before Covid 19, most of her family members worked in Thailand, but now they are all back in Cambodia. The family has worked hard on their chicken coop and is seeing results. A few family members have obtained employment in construction. They are planning on reinvesting savings from work into the chicken coops!

“I am really happy that my chickens are producing eggs and increasing more chicken. And thank you so much for your support.”
• Thida •

Listening and collaboration are essential to supporting communities. 

PEPY understands that everyone’s efforts to support the community will be stronger if NGOs work in partnership. PEPY staff visited ABC’s and Rice, a local food bank, to learn from them about how to best perform community outreach.

“It was very helpful to see how food banks are implemented first hand and talk to their team about other strategies and approaches they have taken to support their students and communities during this crisis. We believe food security is a community effort and are very happy to learn and work alongside other effective NGOs.”

They also visited GoPhil partner Journeys Within Our Community (JWOC) to participate in financial literacy training. PEPY staff will apply what they learned by working with students and their families on financial planning to increase their savings. 

GoPhil donors are helping PEPY expand the scholarship program to reach more students in 2021. PEPY has told GoPhil that scholarships are their greatest need at the moment. Very few other NGOs provide scholarships, and they are in high demand. 

Become a part of the collective effort to support PEPY in working towards a sustainable future for students and their communities today.