One day, Rot Vannchhai, an accounting student at the Human Resource University, was listening to a radio program that talked about how youth can work together for more justice in society. Once he heard this, Vannchhai called the radio station up and found out that it was produced by Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP), which he then got in touch with.
Vannchhai remembers that his dream came true when he found YRDP. When asked why? He responded that YRDP had so many interesting courses he could learn from to develop on a personal level and to improve his life skills. So, he joined courses about Personal Development, Democracy, How to create Jobs and Climate Change and many others. At YRDP trainings, he says, he does not only learn about the contents, but also he could build his skills to actively participate in the society. “At YRDP, I was shown how to a become motivated, committed and determined person,” said Vannchhai.
Since then and whenever his studies would allow, Vannchhai spent time at YRDP office to attend courses, read books in the library or join activities for peace building or pointing to injustices with other YRDP youths.
2013 was not a good year for Cambodia, according to Vannchhai. The national election occurred in July and in the aftermath, the Opposition Party, who lost the election boycotted the result and took the streets to stage the demonstration which lasted several months.
However, Vannchhai’s participation in the society began to increase at that time. In September 2013, Vannchhai was invited by YRDP to present himself in front of university students about his volunteer work that he had been doing with YRDP. Since that time, he gave many talks about youth’s rights and freedom in democratic society to the public through radio, television and other public meetings. In early 2014, he began his volunteer work at YRDP in the “Extractive Industry Project”.
He said that being accepted by YRDP to work as a volunteer work was the most exciting thing of his life at the time. As volunteer, Vannchhai traveled to different places in the country to inspect deforestation, mines, arrest of land or environmental activists and other conflicts. He added that 2014 was a special year for him, because he was approached by many journalists to give interviews. He was excited to have a chance to voice his concerns and insights in the media.
“Without YRDP, I would not be able to be what I am today. About four months after I joined YRDP, I realized that YRDP was the place that could push me upward,” said Vannchhai.
Now Vanchhai works at Live & Learn Environmental Education, an Australian organization which had the mission to combat poverty.