Recently, we asked John Thompson, Project Manager at the People Improvement Organization (PIO) to talk about the school’s work and its relationship with Dharma Care’s Sreylak Program for Girls.
The People Improvement Organization (PIO) was founded in 2002 by Phymean Noun. It originally provided education, rice, school supplies and clean water to children working on the Steung Meanchey garbage dump. Starting from 20 children in a single classroom, it has grown over time to where it now offers education from Grade 1 through to Grade 12 in both the Cambodian national curriculum and English classes at all levels.
It provides education to those most in need, those who without PIO would have dropped out of school or perhaps never even have attended school. They are the children of low income families whose parents work at low-skilled, low-wage jobs and barely earn enough to support themselves and their children.
The work of Phymean has been recognised internationally. In 2008 she was a Top Ten Winner of the CNN Heroes Award. In 2015 she received the World’s Children’s Prize for her humanitarian work, and Her Excellency, Bun Rany Hun Sen, the President of the Cambodian Red Cross awarded Phymean the Medal of Honor for her ongoing humanitarian work with the children of Cambodia. In the same year, the Canadian Multicultural Council awarded Phymean the Special Humanitarian Award for her outstanding humanitarian work in Cambodia.
Like other NGOs, PIO relies entirely on the support of like-minded donors to continue its work. It is never easy to raise funds, but the Covid pandemic and subsequent financial crisis have had a marked impact. In the past two years there have been few visitors and very few new donors, and yet PIO remained committed to supporting its children during the long period of school closures in Cambodia.
PIO is grateful to sponsors such as Dharma Care who have continued to help in difficult times and ensured that the students most in need have continued to receive shelter, food and education. Dharma Care now supports 13 girls and young women at the school, six of whom are now achieving academic success at university through the support of Dharma Care.
PIO has been very successful in encouraging girls, living in very difficult circumstances, to continue their education as far as possible. Notably there are a number of young women who have made the journey from being a child labourer, to attending university through the ongoing support and nurture of PIO. Others were living in extreme poverty, but through the work of PIO were able to not only attend school, but to do so successfully and move on to meaningful employment or higher study.
PIO has developed a close working relationship with Dharma Care over many years, a relationship which has strengthened after the visit of Miyako Armytage (Board Member) and Irwan Wyllie (CEO) to the school in August 2019. We look forward to that relationship continuing and developing in its support of girls and young women at PIO.
We are most grateful to partner with an organization that shares our vision of providing a brighter future through education. Together we can change lives and enable girls and young women to reach their full potential through education.