A better future thanks to Apprenticeships

Our partner organisation BSDA (Buddhism for Social Development Action) enables young people from very poor families in the region of Kampong Cham to complete an education so that they can have a better future. At BSDA the young people complete an 18-month training course. In the first six months they catch up on basic education and during a further year they complete an apprenticeship in the fields of mechanics, electronics, hotel business, gastronomy or beauty care.

Photos EcoSolidar

Photo report about the project in Cambodia

Va Valong is 16 years old and lives in a village with his parents and three younger siblings. His family is very poor, his father works as a day labourer on the construction site and barely earns enough to feed the family. Va Valong had dropped out of school to help at home.

For five months now he has been training as a mechanic at BSDA. His mother has encouraged him to do this training. She says: “Of course he is missing as a help at home, but I wish for a better future for him. His life shall be less difficult than mine”.

During the training Va Valong lives together with other young people in “Smile Institute”. They cook and eat together and spend their free time here. The young people can learn new things about the world, laugh and forget their worries from home for a while.

Va Valong is doing his apprenticeship in the “Metta Garage”, a social enterprise of BSDA. Here he can gain practical experience and apply his knowledge immediately. He likes the training course, the teacher is friendly and explains things well.

Regularly there are theory lessons with the teacher, Chhit Mengly. His task is not easy. In teaching he has to consider the different educational levels of the young people as well as their sometimes difficult personal backgrounds. This takes time and requires patience.

Chhorn Sokheang is 16 years old and has been living in “Smile Institute” for eleven months. In the first six months she caught up on her school education. She likes reading. Here she is discussing her homework with a roommate.

Chhorn Sokheang at home: She is the second eldest of five children. Since her parents had no money for her school fees, she had to drop out of school. Although her parents miss her help at home, they are happy that she can live in “Smile Institute” and that she is well cared for.

She likes her training course in beauty care very much. The owner of the shop is very satisfied with her, because Chhorn Sokheang is proactive and helpful. That’s why she has already offered her a permanent position after one month of training.

Kim Tharoath is 15 years old and has been living in “Smile Institute” for eight months. She shares a dormitory with ten other girls. Here she is practising the alphabet with her friends. They help each other to learn.

Kim Tharoath has decided to study gastronomy. In “Smile Institute” she is assigned to the kitchen service and cooks for her roommates.

She completes her practical training in the “Smile Restaurant”, a social enterprise of BSDA. The “Smile Restaurant” serves as a training place for prospective cooks and service employees. Kim Tharoath can gain practical work experience in cooking and service here.

Sreykeo Chron has also made her training with BSDA in gastronomy and has been working in the restaurant of “Hanchey Bamboo Resort”, an ecological centre, since its opening in October 2018. In the meantime, she has become a team leader and is responsible for the service team. She trains young people who gain practical experience here during their training with BSDA. Her dream is to open her own restaurant one day.

“Hanchey Bamboo Resort” is another BSDA social enterprise. The ecological retreat centre for local and international guests serves as a training location where young people can complete an apprenticeship in gastronomy and hotel business.

The construction of the centre was effected in an ecological and socially sustainable fashion. Workers from the surrounding villages built the bungalow complex from bamboo and local soil and received training in this construction method.

The proceeds from “Hanchey Bamboo Resort” co-finance the educational programmes of BSDA.

Vin Dina also comes from a poor family and had dropped out of school to earn money. Her father learned about BSDA and three years ago she completed a cooking apprenticeship: “I learned to cook, but also a lot about living together with others. And I noticed that the world was bigger than I had thought it was”.

After her training, she gained further experience in various hotels. Today she is the proud owner of a small restaurant: “I am very satisfied, I have a lot of work, but I am my own boss. And I am very proud when my customers are satisfied.”