Zero Waste Competition is at the FINAL! Based on creativity, repurposed materials used and the outcome of their product, we have excitingly selected 9 finalists who managed to nab the highest points on the scoreboard. Nevertheless, we were bowled over by the creations of all 33 groups of participants!
Looking at the colourful and varied types of the items that our participants have made, we think the judges will definitely have a hard time choosing the final winners! Due to Covid19, we unfortunately had to postpone our live judging event but we will certainly keep you posted through our Facebook page as soon as the date is confirmed.
As part of the competition, our finalists had to master their 90-second video pitch to present their creations. We were so excited to see how some of them introduced themselves and their products differently! Some even pitched in English and that is REAL bravest!
On behalf of her team, Teacher Lis also expressed how excited and happy she is to be selected as one of the finalists of the competition! We are absolutely proud of our teachers creating their tables and chairs out of cardboards and rice bags!
Talking about the final judging of the event, Victoria enthused: “I am beyond chuffed for the day to come! While watching the video pitches, I can totally feel the passion from the children. I am so proud and amazed!” To what Victoria shared, we can say that we are too!
Do you want to see more of the Zero Waste creations done by our participants? Subscribe to PeopleStories YouTube Channel to watch Part 1 and Part 2 of our video compilation and support our children in rural Cambodia.
Story written by: Volunteer Zeleen Thum
After 10 months being away from home and studying on our Road2STEM scholarship, KongNov and SreyMey finally returned home on their school holidays. “If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.” This quote from Zig Ziglar aptly sums up how KongNov and SreyMey master their learning amidst the hurdles faced being away from home and having extended school closures due to the pandemic.
Learning has not been a bed of roses for them. In fact, KongNov had a first taste of failure studying STEM when she failed Maths for the very first time. While she was heartbroken, she resolved to do Maths questions everyday till she passed her exams. She not only passed her Maths exams but went on to score even better than before! Her persistence had paid off!
With the prolonged school closures and learning taking place online, the girls had problems that were inevitable due to the inadequate network coverage. While most students just lamented about the problem, KongNov found a solution for the unstable network, “I need to learn and research before the teacher and when Teacher teaches me, I can understand. I also ask my friends when I need help.”
These advices resonate with all of us at PeopleStories. With such loving advice in mind, SreyMey and KongNov have been mastering their learning with heart. The heart to one day, lift the others in the village and also their country out of poverty. The growth of these girls has been nothing short of phenomenal. We are really proud and heartened to have played a part in unlocking their potential.
Join us in our quest to unlock the potential of more children in rural Cambodia. Read more about our Road2STEM scholarship: https://www.peoplestories.net/school-for-life.html
Story written by: Volunteer Bok Hoon Ong
What a great response from our communities! We have received a total of 33 entries for our Zero Waste competition. Teachers, students and their family members from our partner secondary schools have shown immense creativity and enthusiasm in creating a product that they believe deserves to win!
Student Pokim enthused, “I am very excited for the judging of the competition as I have taken part in it myself!” She also marvelled at the creativity of some of her peers, especially the one who has made use of plastics to create flowers! Does this make you curious about how the creations look like and what they are? We sure are!
Do you want to join us in this judging event and support the finalists? The judging event will be held live in early October. Head on over and follow our social media channels to keep up to date with the news and date of the judging event!
Story written by: Volunteer Zeleen Thum
A brief history of education in Cambodia: Before the 20th century, traditional education in Cambodia was handled by the local wat (temples) and the monks and priests ("bhikku") were the teachers. The students were almost entirely boys, and the education was limited to memorizing Buddhist chants in Pali.
After the Khmer Rouge were driven from power, the education system had to be re-created from almost nothing. Illiteracy had climbed to more than 40 percent, and most young people under the age of 14 lacked any basic education. In the former schools which could still be used, but also in the streets, civil servants and teachers who remained alive showed an exceptional devotion by teaching even at night!
Thank You, Teachers! Every 5 October is the World Teachers’ Day. It is a day that is dedicated to raising public awareness on issues related to teachers and teaching. These include things like teaching teachers to teach, the importance of all levels of education, and the challenges teachers often face in third world countries.
From the bottom of our heart, PeopleStories would like to say Thank You to all the teachers, especially to those who have been working closely with PeopleStories. Thank you for trusting us, and working with us to make the change.
PeopleStories is committed to transform lives through education. Want to make a difference together? Email: Team@PeopleStoriesCharity.org to start your change maker journey.
Story written by: Volunteers Bok Hoon Ong and Pei Khoek
After a few twists and turns over the past few months, we are so happy to finally announce that our competition has officially begun! Despite the worsening Covid situation in Cambodia, over this month, we have successfully spread the details and educational message to our scholarship students in their respective schools.
Even though making video is foreign to them, we are glad to see that our teachers are open and ready to challenge themselves to be a beginner in something new!
The roles have been switched! Pokim and Bunsao have now become the teachers to their peers in their Zero-Waste educational video! “I love to speak and make gestures while filming the video and feel that producing such videos is an effective way to educate my community!” beamed Pokim
Teacher Sarith concurred, “Especially in such a time, when meeting face to face is difficult, I believe the videos is a good way to spread information and message.” However, he conceded that the effectiveness of this way of education depend on where others live and what their living situation is like.
Like Teacher Sarith, we are so proud of our students for being brave enough to stand in front of the camera for filming.. First time of doing anything can be scary, yet our teachers and students face their fears straight on and did it! We find them so inspiring!
What is something you did recently that required courage? We would love to know! Our founder Vic has also help produced the Zero Waste educational videos, featuring Pokim and Bunsao, and uploaded it onto our YouTube channel! If you would like to show them some support, head over to give them a thumbs up!
Story written by: Volunteer Zeleen Thum
With the Covid-19 situation in Siem Reap worsening, our new initiative “Zero Waste” Competition isn’t proceeding as smooth as we would like to see. Teacher Sarith, who is mentoring the working group reported, “Due to the many cases of Covid-19 even in rural villages, we are having difficulties to get in touch with our students. Only a couple of our partner schools could contact the students who have smart devices and to explain about the competition.”
Who would have thought that this is the first time Pokim and Bunsao producing educational videos? Working with Zeleen remotely, the team has produced some informative and interesting flipboards which became the centre of teaching materials. Seeing them talking about the environmental issues in Cambodia in front of the camera is just mind-blowing and inspiring!
We are hoping that as the competition gains traction again, we will be able to spread the word and invite interesting creations from teachers, students and their families. Can’t wait to watch the completed educational video and make them available for our scholarship students.
Story written by: volunteer Zeleen Thum
Beside supporting PeopleStories, our volunteer / writer Bok Hoon is passionate about environmental matters. As she was cleaning up a beach on the World Ocean Day in Singapore, she said to herself, “It seems a futile attempt to keep going and keep picking up the trash contributed by people from the neighbouring countries. The currents bring the trash to us in Singapore on a regular basis. The world is a village, ‘it’s not in my backyard’ mentality cannot solve the problem.”
Bok Hoon’s thought pushed us to think a bit deeper, “How can people be made aware of the environmental effects of their actions?” The answer is simple, “It all starts with education!”.
Overfishing in Tonle Sap
Tonle Sap’s water drains from Tonle Sap into Mekong and vice versa as a result of an annual phenomenon. It is home to hundreds of species of fish that provide Cambodia with up to 60% of its protein. People had to fish for a living and overfishing is inevitable due to the exponential increase in population. Cambodia’s population has almost quadrupled from 4.4 million in 1950 to 16.9 million in 2020.
To make matter worse, Covid-19 has almost killed the tourism industry in Siem Reap Province and even the price of produce. People used to be able to migrate to Thailand to work but not now. Hence, more people are turning to fishing for a living.
Apparently, there is no waste collection in the rural villages. Hence, the waste would most likely end up in the lake or get burned. The floating villages and dense population of people living around the lake generate a huge amount of waste, causing water pollution.
When speaking with teacher Socheat who also lives in the floating village, she shared, “The biggest environmental problem in Tonle Sap is defecation without toilets!”. Many houses in the village do not have sewage or piping system to collect their human waste.
Most Cambodia rural families practise subsistence farming, where family members awake before dawn, work is done before noon to avoid the heat. 2.5 acres (1 hectare) of rice paddy is used to provide for a family of 5. The use of chemicals and pesticides for agriculture has also led to water pollution that eventually runs to Tonle Sap.
So, what can we do to protect our environment? Perhaps we can reflect on the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” As individuals, we can all practise minimalist living, buying only what we need. For example, there are people who keep buying clothes, shoes and bags. But do they really use all that they buy? Very often, things end up being ‘white elephants’ and eventually contribute to the trash level.
As much as we love food, making a conscious effort to eat less meat and more fruits, vegetables and grains can help save our planet. It is healthier and produces less carbon footprints. A win-win situation for all! How about practising ‘Refuse’?- Refuse to buy things that we do not need, refuse to accept free gifts or any form of hand me downs that we will not be using. When we do this sufficiently, we do not even need to go to ‘reduce’, ‘recycle’ and ‘reuse’. Choose to ‘refuse’ as the top priority of our sustainability efforts.
What is something you will start doing to play a part to save our planet?
PeopleStories is embarking on a ‘Zero Waste’ Competition as a start. You can also be part of the PeopleStories’ efforts to save our planet through educating the children.
Written by: Bok Hoon ONG
“I only feel angry when I see waste. When I see people throwing away things we could use.” Heartfelt words from Mother Teresa is the message we want to share with the children.
Besides the united passion, the team shared incredible (and creative) ideas about the possibilities of this competition. They are now busy creating flipboards and videos to educate other students and their families about Waste and more importantly what they can do to save our environment.
In the heart of the competition, teachers, students and their families will be tasked to use waste found at home or in their village to create a useful product or decorative piece of art.
Over the course of 2 months, the team intends to spread the words about the “Zero Waste” competition to as many students as possible. Hopefully, the communities will be inspired by what they have learnt and unleash their creativity as individuals or as a team to come up with ideas on how they can help the environment… and of course to win the competition too!
We are also grateful to have Teacher Sarith mentoring the group and he shared, “I believe this competition will help to improve our living environment and inspire students to use their creativity for the competition. I think this event will not only urge my community to reduce and reuse their waste, it can also elevate the family economy in my community.” Aren’t the responses of Teacher Sarith, Pokim and Bunsao inspiring? We are so glad that they find great purpose in this competition!
By organising a competition and roping in the help of students and teachers there, we want to spread knowledge and encourage creativity to reuse, reduce and recycle waste in Cambodia to mitigate the impact of global warming caused by the burning of waste in rural area.
We are looking forward to the experience, results and the submissions for this competition at the end of July and sharing them with all of you! Let’s all work towards living in a more beautiful and greener world!
Share with us on our Facebook or Instagram on what actions you have taken to create a cleaner and greener world! Don’t forget to include ‘#One4Environment’ to unite with like-minded supporters.
Written by: Zeleen Thum
Our two RoadToSTEM scholarship students SreyMey and KongNov moved to Phnom Penh merely a few months ago, but their growth has been amazing for everyone to witness. From close to digital illiterate, they’ve now learned a few things about coding and were even competing at a technology innovation competition hosted by TechNovation Cambodia!
COVID19 has impacted the education industry severely and 825 million learners are currently affected due to school closures. Schools in Cambodia went into another closure in mid-March 2021 due to its 2nd wave of the pandemic that is hitting the country which has significant social and economic impact.
Looking at the positive side, school closures also bring a sense of urgency to change and to focus on quick adaption of other ways of accessing education – digital learning.
I am incredibly proud and thankful that Oliver Wyman (OW) and the amazing digital strategy team who have agreed to support PeopleStories on a pro bono basis to develop a strategic roadmap to create Digital Education for rural Cambodia! Big shout out to Mike, Kevin and Rui from the OW team. At our project kick off discussion, Kevin Emeraldi - Associate at OW shared, “Given today’s pain points of limited physical interaction, educational stakeholders should consider the possibility of disrupting the ‘conventional way’ and immediately offer a means to ensure students can still consistently be engaged to offer some level of continuity and ultimately de-risk their chance of dropping out of the formal education system.”
On the other hand, the voice of our students was heard loud and clear. Kevin shared, “If I have to choose one big thing that I have learned from listening to students in the rural community of Cambodia is the fact that they already have the ambition to succeed despite of the numerous adversities.”
Our mission is to help children complete school, to improve the quality of education and to shift mindsets that school becomes a place where dreams are nurtured and more importantly to lay a strong and happy foundation for the brighter future. A few ideation workshops were held between our core team at PeopleStories and the OW digital experts, and subsequently two broad incredible and important elements have been put forwarded as the core of our digital education strategy including “Community Based” and “Technology Based” solutions.
I am pleased to see the team has applied a good system view on the matter in order to build a sustainable solution to compliment the eco-system of rural education in Cambodia. These include a variety of traditional academic knowledge transfer via digital platform (online and offline) as well as influencing the local communities to trust, support, adopt and commit to this transformational change.
I hope you get a sense of my excitement and how big this change is going to be for PeopleStories and the children we serve. In working with our team for a few weeks, Kevin has confirmed his passion to serve the purpose of PeopleStories,” One thing we should be mindful about is that some sectors are less disrupted with education being one of them. Acknowledging this status quo, me and the rest of Oliver Wyman team are committed to be a catalyst of change and bring our industry learnings in crafting a fit-for-purpose strategy to introduce digital learnings into some of the most underserved community in South-East Asia. I have always been a true believer that education is ultimately an investment that will always pay the biggest dividend – it is more than just a means to an end – as it will be one of the key enabler for so many talented students out there to reach a better quality of life that they aspire.”
Creating something new has never been more fun, exciting and needed! PeopleStories won’t be successful on this important journey of transforming rural education from “Chalk & Talk” to Digital without the collaboration from good partners.
Drop me an email at email@example.com if you are interested to collaborate to make a difference to many lives of the children of Cambodia.
To break the cycle of poverty by advancing education for underprivileged students, families and communities in need.