PIO Cambodia: Education Fundraiser

The summer before my last year in design school, I spent a month volunteering in the slums of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, working with the sweetest and happiest children I have ever met at NGO's through an Arts & Social Action program.

Poverty, child labor and trafficking are a huge problem there, allowing the cycle of poverty to continue within a younger generation. In Cambodia, more than 300,000 children are required to work to support the needs of their families. Many of these children looking for work are exploited and victims of sexual assault.

I knew very little about Cambodia and its tragic events of the recent past prior to visiting their country, but during this bittersweet experience I fell in love with teaching these kids,  with the culture and people of Cambodia, and knew I wanted to maintain my relationships there and help down the road.

I kept in touch with the NGO's that we worked with, specifically Phymean Noun and her NGO - People Improvement Organization. PIO provides free, quality education to children living in poverty, living in homes where they are at risk of harm or are simply not in school. In 2008 Phymean was recognized on CNN Heroes for starting her organization, which now schools about 900 children. You can see her feature (and her story) on the show here:

Throughout my senior year I designed an arts school for PIO. I was fortunate to meet Phymean in Los Angeles to interview her and she asked me to attend the 2012 CNN  Heroes Award Show with her.

I am so grateful to have connected with such an inspiring hero, and would like to give back to her. 

I am planning a return trip to Phnom Penh this year and I'd like to help raise funds for the children Phymean provides education for. 300 of their students live 15 kilometers or more from the school site, therefore PIO is constantly working to provide a bus, and a truck to transport their children to the school site every day. Phymean told me this is what is needed most right now.
Please check out this video as it shows how many kids need this transportation.

The gas for these two vehicles is not cheap! Gas for the bus costs $200 a month, and the truck, $150 a month. I am hoping to help raise funds to help them to continue their ability to educate so many kids in need. 

My goal is for everyone to give just a little, in hopes that it will add up to be impactful enough to get these children the education they need and deserve. I'm aiming for my total amount raised to provide one full year of transport for the bus and truck. I'll be visiting PIO and delivering the total fundraised amount to them personally.

I'd like to highlight that 100% of the proceeds are going DIRECTLY to the school to keep the bus/truck running for these kids to get to school. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for giving!

“The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet….Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places….We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” » J.K. Rowling


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Sarah Oxley 
Portland, OR
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