Youth Star programme for volunteers enables young Cambodians to turn their lives upside down and gain valuable experience while helping to develop their country. The story of HO Chakriya, 21, is about her personal change as well as change in the community she is serving in. She works with youth and promotes reading by establishing libraries and promoting the importance of education.

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Chakriya volunteered with Youth Star in order to be more independent, gain more experience, and to encourage young people to read and write and take part in community activities.

 For Chakrysa, it was hard at first and she didn’t feel like a part of the community. When she first arrived to her school it was during school holidays and so she and the local headmistress visited the houses of the children that had dropped out of school.

 The community didn’t offer much assistance as they were busy with other activities so she organised a lot herself with the help of someone her own age at the high school. It was rice field season so a lot of children were in the fields. So she was alone at first. Once she found people to help, she started planning with the community chief. Through her community mapping, she learned how many children dropped out of school and also learned about victims of trafficking.

 With the community chief she developed a plan and started up a youth club in her community.

She worked with the children and set up two libraries, which became very popular and attract people even during the weekends.

 There are now 21 youth club members aged 12 to 18 and they have created a book club to educate the community about the importance of reading and education. The youth club members play an active role in encouraging people to use the libraries and also raising awareness about domestic violence through role plays.

 Chakrysa said “I have learned a lot so far from this 10 months in the community and I feel more grown up, independent and better at negotiating. I now find it easy to talk with a range of people and assert my opinions and have authority. I feel sad to leave my community and go back to city life as I have formed such strong friendships”.

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