PEPY | Founder/Director | Briarcliff Manor 0 Estados Unidos
I am making change with "Protect the Earth. Protect Yourself." (PEPY), an educational non-profit organization in Cambodia with a focus on environmental and health education. Having traveled to Cambodia, I had seen the countless number of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) lining the streets, many with wonderful ideas but lacking the funds for the projects and others with big budgets who seemed to be prioritizing their spending in unsustainable ways. I wanted to find those educational changemakers who were doing the best work and fund their projects without having to enter the NGO funding "competition" or have to walk around with a hat collecting donations year-round. Our solution was PEPY Tours, offering volunteer and adventure tours in Cambodia which fund development programs.
Since my first visit to Cambodia in 2002, I have felt a fondness for this place and its people. The changes in Cambodia have barriers of course including the recent history's emotional strain on the society and the current corruption, but the rate of change that is happening is due to a commitment and passion alive in the Cambodian people. Many are making changes in their own lives for the sake of their children, because for the first times in their lives they are free to do so, or because they have a dream for their society that they want to see fulfilled. It creates a motivating atmosphere in which to work and I have enjoyed the people and place immensely since moving here two years ago.
I believe that education is the key to change and I want there to be a world where every child is master of her own education. Where each child is free from the burden of income generation and has nearby access to high quality education so that they are given the opportunity to love learning and can pursue the choices they want to make in life.
People who travel to developing countries for a short period of time often find it hard to identify the best place to give their time and many, and in the worst cases, choose to support groups which are actually harming the populations and areas the traveler had hoped to help. Our goal for PEPY is that we will be the eyes and ears for those travelers investments of time and money making sure that their money is going to the right place and making changes quickly as they are needed.
I had participated in a number of "voluntourism" trips before starting PEPY, and I sometimes felt that I got more out of the experience than I was giving. I wanted to structure PEPY in a way that would allow people to give their time and their money, but would also be an educational experience for them which might change how they travel in the future. Some volunteer tourism projects allow you to fundraise for your own travel expenses, but I want the travelers who come with PEPY to recognize what I had learned, that THEY will be getting a lot out of this, and by paying for their vacation, they are keeping the integrity of their donations as they can be better allocated to the projects themselves.