Most organisations are now looking to constantly evolve and disrupt. Tech start-ups play an important role in bottom up innovation but reality is that 90% of them fail. Does that mean we shouldn’t take risk in pursuing our vision and dreams? Of course not!
Dreams are some of the most powerful drivers of human behavior and we should always look to successful role models or, even better, use them to dream even bigger! This not only applies to start-ups but also to individuals including students in school.
During my recent visit to the capital city of Cambodia - Phnom Penh, I had the privilege to meet and work with a number of high school and university students at a ‘Hackathon’. Experiencing their energy, maturity and kind hearts was absolutely amazing!
This clearly does not happen by accident but their personas are the result of thoughtful and focused education over the years. After seeing first-hand some of the leading STEM and New Generation schools there, it just confirmed my belief in the power of mentoring.
I learned so much from student Kret who came from one of the provinces where her family could not provide her with a better education. She has been living and studying at an NGO school for almost 8 years. Not only she surprised me with her sound English and excellent general knowledge but her dream and outlook for her future is just astonishing! In fact, she even invited us to visit her school and gave us an incredible tour there.
When I worked with these amazing young students it gave me a lot of encouragement. What I saw was one of the positive and better futures for the students we support!
Changing schools let alone the whole school system is hard (we’re trying though!) but to support deserving and talented students is comparatively easy. All we need to do is enable these students to pursue their dreams.
Our new intake of 100 scholarship students is the future! I can’t wait to see them all realize their full potential in a few years!
You can also make some real and direct impact with PeopleStories. Give us a helping hand today:
Looking back it was like yesterday when we first dreamed about Peoplestories. Everything started from a causal conversation with Victoria and Oliver, a few months prior to the official establishment of Peoplestories. I can still remember how much I was inspired by the passion and insight of this couple who were so determined to make real impact to the kids in rural Siem Reap.
We started everything from scratch, from thinking of a name, a mission and the scope, thinking about what we could and what we should do. To cut down on cost, we designed our first logo ourselves and that was when an amateur like me became the acting graphic designer for the team! We conducted countless conversations with our friends about Peoplestories and its values. We worked hard on our fundraising. We recruited, interviewed and expanded our team of Change Makers. We put tremendous effort into this but also had a lot of fun. I can't believe it has been two years already.
My role, as the Lead of Ethics and Governance Function, is slightly different from most of the other functions which would have more direct contact and impact to our beneficiaries and a team to work with. I focus more on the backend work, such as setting internal policies, guidelines on ethics, ensuring integrity and alignment with our values of our members and programmes. As a clinician who has been working in the social service sector for years, I have witnessed a lot of good and also bad practices among charities and the helping profession.
Peoplestories stands out because of its belief in the spirit of empowerment and changes that uplift, and more importantly a group of compassionate Change Markers who share and firmly stick to the same belief. I took my role to ensure Peoplestories keeps running as such.
It is amazing to see Peoplestories grow, from only a few of us to such a big group of likeminded Change Makers (volunteers), from an idea to concrete programmes benefiting hundreds and counting.
If you ask me what would be worth of celebrating at our 2nd birthday, I would say it is the Change Makers that we have. I have witnessed their wholehearted contributions and sacrifices despite their struggle on various commitments in their lives. They come here for nothing but to actualize what they believe and make a difference.
Peoplestories is all about people. As much as I want you to find out more about the kids in our programmes and also our Change Makers, I also want to know more about you. Reach out to us if you are interested. Perhaps you could be the next Change Maker.
“The world is in the 21st century, people around the world use computers for their work.
But at my school, none of the teachers can use computer except myself. All the school tasks relating to computer always rest on my shoulders, which makes me feel tired and disappointed.
Therefore, I really would like to see all the teachers including my school director here at Chea Smonn can use computer.
Information Technology is very powerful! I wish, by learning computer, all the teachers and my director can perform their work better and faster. More importantly, they can create better quality of teaching for the students.
I will be so happy and proud of myself when the teachers can use computer for better teaching.”
Story written by Mom Kimsong - Computer Teacher at Chea Smonn School
What an experience! What a privilege! What fun!
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to be part of a small team from Singapore supporting PeopleStories in kick starting ‘football dreams’ at Phum Ou School in rural Siem Reap.
Football is my passion. I have been trying to play the game for over 50 years. The game has given me so much over the years…taken me to so many places and introduced me to so many friends for life. However , never in a million years could I have imagined myself as part of team coaching the beautiful game to 120 boys and girls - between the ages of 8 and 12 – at a school in Cambodia. Now that truly is living the dream!
No all-weather surfaces here. No goal posts or any other fancy coaching aids that you see on You Tube! What we did have though was 120 children bursting with excitement, infectious enthusiasm and boundless energy. A warm up (as if that was needed in Cambodia), few drills in smaller groups and some games. Really competitive…lots of cheering, loads of ‘high fives’ and big smiles. Humbling but above all INSPIRING!
There were so many highlights for me personally from this, my first volunteering experience-
I now better understand the role of ‘football dreams’ in the broader purpose of PeopleStories in advancing education in the rural Siem Reap area-this work can make a meaningful and sustainable difference. And it will not be long before I am back on a plane heading that way to do more. Cannae wait!
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to work with Victoria as a volunteer in rural Siem Reap to help refurbish Chea Smonn Secondary School.
Words can’t really describe the impact this has made on me so I can only encourage others to jump onboard and become a PeopleStories Change Maker either by donation or your time as a volunteer.
Victoria and the PeopleStories team will continue to make real change for underprivileged students by breaking the poverty cycle through education and I look forward to one day being part of this journey again.
What an awesome first day! Thank you Victoria Keeys for sharing with me your Cambodian family and home. With a clean up this morning we will be ready to start painting tomorrow!
In September 2018, I had the honor to join PeopleStories to build a classroom in rural Siem Riep, Cambodia for Chear Smonn Secondary school (i.e. Post on How I found PeopleStories)
I want to share a couple of the impactful moments I had on this trip. The first moment was when myself and other volunteers were carrying bricks to the bricklayers. Then kids from the local school who were on their school break came and joined us. The kids in groups of two would use a basket to transport bricks to the bricklayers I thought to myself, “ would you see this in a developed country?” To make that moment more memorable, Vic and Chandelle from PeopleStories had all of us write a phrase on a brick. I wrote “Dream Big” because I believe with basic IT skills and english these children have the building blocks to accomplish any dream. I put “dream big” so that it will be a constant reminder to the children that they can do anything! We placed the bricks in the foundation leaving our mark.
The second memorable moment was on my last day, Vic and I brought two girls from the school and their mom back to our hotel to swim. The two girls live with their parents outside the school in one bedroom wooden home with a well in the yard as their chief water source. As result, going to the city and being in a hotel really was a sharp contrast. When the girls saw the infinity pool their faces lit up with joy. Vic and I taught them the basic swimming strokes which they quickly learned and we raced them across the pool. This experience grounded us to realize that life is too short and moments like these can really make profound impact on someone's life.
Overall this Siem Reap trip with PeopleStories is truly profound and inspirational experience to me. It reminds me to always give back, live in the moment, and be thankful.
Come join us by being a Changemaker by Volunteering or by giving.
PeopleStories has been truly impactful for myself and our organization, Cyberjin.
Vic and I met teaching English and IT in Thailand and shared common aspirations to help give children IT and English to allow them to do anything they want in this world.
When Vic asked for assistance with her new Non-profit in March 2018 it triggered major events in my life and others. Her suggestion for myself to help with IT aspect of PeopleStories jump-started the launch of our company to make businesses more efficient and most importantly make a difference in the world starting with PeopleStories.
Now 6 months later the first steps have begun on a new partnership. Coming to Cambodia to help rebuild the Chear Smonn school has reiterated how important I believe PeopleStories is and approach is effective. You can tell the real impact by the smiles on kids faces, the decrease in dropout rates, and the family feel we experienced at dinner with one of the villages.
PeopleStories approach is one that is wholisitc on focusing on setting up the foundation of education by giving the school proper processes and tools to succeed. This can be seen in School for Life and Bike for Life!
The future of PeopleStories is bright and within the next five years I envision multiple of these programs including an IT component across five schools in two countries with ambassadors of volunteers helping set up proper foundation at each school.
My only advice is to adapt, dream big, leverage your resources, and shoot for the moon!! I am truly excited to belong along for this journey!
Written by Matt Nelson, Volunteered in September 2018
Helping to rebuild the classroom at Chea Smonn school in rural Cambodia!
My hands got dirty, I sweated and I was tired but it was an awesome experience seeing all the support, laughter and positive energy!! We had so many people helping us including the mother of one of the local children cooking lunch for the hard working volunteers.
One of the highlights was when all of us wrote down our dreams and wishes on a brick which became part of the new building. Hearing some of the children and to listen to their dreams is amazing!
I like to think about the snow ball effect this will have. Every child which we can help educate and positively influence will eventually pass this on.
One small little step at a time we will help make this world a happier and better place.
Story written by Oliver Miloschewsky who volunteered with PeopleStories in September 2018.
I visited Chea Smonn school for the 2018 School for Life ceremony and the experience was incredible. Things I sometimes take for granted have greater meaning when I see the difficulties they face, and their passion and hope for a better future is truly inspiring.
Story by Mike Kershner