SimplyHelp is a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles dedicated to relieving poverty by providing emergency disaster relief, vocational training, and shelter and care. SimplyHelp established a branch called ‘SimplyHelp Cambodia’ with two vocational training schools – a computer school and a tailoring school – in Cambodia. SimplyHelp Cambodia was set up with the help of passionate local Cambodians. The schools are run by Cambodians, for Cambodians.
When Cambodia started to recover from its decades of conflict, national and international businesses established themselves in Cambodia. They had a hard time finding employees for white collar jobs. Most people were poor and could not afford any kind of education. For this reason SimplyHelp started to teach vocational skills to poor people for free. To date, SimplyHelp Cambodia has graduated over 4000 students, of which 85% find a job either working for a big company, in banking, for an NGO, or they open up their own shop, or go on to higher education.
SimplyHelp Foundation - Los Angeles, California, United States
Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world. SimplyHelp was approached and asked to assess the need in Cambodia. We met with local people, businesses, temples, and the government.
SimplyHelp learned Cambodia was in need of people with computer skills, and had a high demand for people who can work in the clothing and textile industry because textile is Cambodia’s number one export product.
SimplyHelp Cambodia’s Director, Mr. Vuthi Seng, is well connected in the community. He built a team of two computer teachers, one tailoring teacher, one manager and one administrative assistant. They worked together to build up the computer school in the capital city.
With the tailoring school, SimplyHelp wanted to reach poor people in rural areas, because these people often cannot afford to travel far for education. Mr. Seng spread the word and gathered information from local people about poor villages that would benefit from this training. The school was set up in that area and moved after graduation to a new village. The school has moved 8 times since it was established. When a village is chosen as next destination for the school, someone in the village will offer to open their home and turn it into a temporary school. The villages are always located in the middle of rice fields, and mostly all the residents of the village are rice farmers or cow herders. For the villagers, to have a school on your property is very prestigious so oftentimes the schools are on the land of the village chief or another prominent village member.
To teach these valuable sewing skills, SimplyHelp Cambodia sends Ms. Sereywat from Phnom Penh – a highly qualified sewing teacher and a master in her profession. Ms. Sereywat goes to a village for two or three days a week and trains two assistant teachers who teach on the days Ms. Sereywat is not in the village. There are about 40 students per class and there are 2 classes per day. This allows the students to go to school either in the morning or afternoon, and they can then work their land the other part of the day.
The Computer School relies on word-of-mouth promotion and has established a very fine reputation over the years. Every three months, 100 students are selected to receive training.
SimplyHelp has evaluated the impact of its schools by tracking what alumni do after graduation.
SimplyHelp Cambodia is in the process of becoming self-sustaining by raising its own funds and tapping into local funding resources. As part of this effort the Computer School has started to charge a minimum fee ($5) for the computer training. SimplyHelp has annual fundraisers for the schools in Cambodia and will continue to support the school.
SimplyHelp continues to evaluate the schools and adjusts the training whenever changes in demand for particular skills occur.
As demonstrated above, it is clear that SimplyHelp Cambodia is an educational model for economic and societal success; it is critical to support these kinds of educational endeavors which not only help individuals of impoverished countries build a new life for themselves, but also helps to perpetuate a self-sustaining community and ultimately an integrated global economy.
The Tailoring School allows people in rural areas to learn a vocation and to be self-sufficient. Tailoring graduates have started their own business and have taken apprentices. People are learning a skill, passing on their knowledge and improving the standard of living for their families.
Heightened income has improved women’s social status and affects the community at large: Tailoring students are farmers with an average income of $1 to $2 per day. Graduates increase their average income from $3 to $7 per day. This extra income is saved and used to improve living circumstances and to re-invest their own business and their community.
At the computer school in Phnom Penh, due to the high-quality, low-cost training, 200 students apply for the 100 available training spots every three months. Selected students are low-income students, orphans and students with a handicap. 40% of the graduates from the computer school pursue higher education, and 45% find a job.
You can learn more about SimplyHelp Cambodia's work by reading the Personal Stories section on their website, or by reading the article SimplyHelp Cambodia: An Educational Model of Sustainability and Success.
SimplyHelp Foundation's Website: http://simplyhelp.org/
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