Youth Assistance Project offers poor and needy youth a chance to finish their middle and high school education. We have two homes; one in Saang (right outside of Phnom Penh) with 27 girls, and one in Phnom Penh with 15 boys. The students are given housing, food and additional studies for free.
The history of Cambodia has left much poverty and many broken families, and many youth find it hard to complete their education. “Out of every 1000 students who enter primary school at grade one, only 23 boys and 9 girls actually finish high school”, says Yeon Mi, director of YAP, “That’s the reason we started Youth Assistance Project”. “We also want to disciple and to train them to become mature and responsible people for the future”.
It all started when Yeon Mi returned to Cambodia in 2004 after a one year break. She had previously worked with Hagar, supporting widows and single mothers with their children. As she returned she noticed that some children, having left Hagar, were working on the streets instead of studying because of difficulties in their families. It moved her heart and she decided to help.
With the financial help from a South Korean businessman she was able to repair a house in Saang to host the teenagers. She started with 12 students, but it didn’t take long before they were 20 girls and 10 boys living together.
In 2006 Youth Assistance Project got its second house, this time in Phnom Penh, where the boys moved.
“I come from a poor family. When I grew up life was difficult as my mom is a widow and we were seven children. Being old my mother always had problems with her health. And we lived far from school so I decided to stop studying after grade eight. Then I heard about the youth house and got accepted to come. When I did everything changed. I was so happy I could continue my studies, have food to eat, a place to stay, time with God – everything! I didn’t have to worry. But sometimes it can be hard, especially thinking about my family back home, and all the struggles they are going through. But I am thankful to God, and have decided to continue my studies and finish grade twelve.” – Sray
“I grew up as a Christian, but fell away from God when I moved to Phnom Penh. I stopped studying and joined a gang who was fighting a lot. One day the police came and took two of my friends to prison. After that I started going to a Church again and I realized that God loves me so much even though I am far from perfect. Even though people didn’t like me God never stopped loving me. If I would have stayed with my friends I would probably have been in prison today. When I heard that Yeon Mi had come back and was starting a youth house I asked her if I could come, and I could. I am so glad that I can continue my studies and come closer to God.” – Dan
“When I decided to come here I felt worried that there would be so many students and that there would be a lot of fighting and that things would get stolen. But it was different. The other students had a heart from God to love one another and there was good fellowship. I started to learn that God loves all people and therefore I can forgive them. And before I didn’t try to study hard, but here I can even study computer, English, music and the Bible. I am also learning to be a good leader for one of our small groups.” - Sami