Describe the degree of success you have had to date. How do you measure, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the impact on sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How has it transformed or contributed to the power of place or demonstrated the sustainability of tourism? How does your approach minimize negative impacts?
Before PEPY: Chanleas Dai’s Library sat locked, rat infested, and unused
In December 2006: PEPY and visiting volunteers refurbished the library and added 3000 volumes of books. Soon, over 70 books per month were being checked out of the library.
Today: Over 2,500 books are checked out of the same library each month.
This example of the changes we have seen through our programs are the types of change we are looking to affect here at PEPY: catalytic changes in attitudes. The community of Chanleas Dai has an entirely different attitude towards books, reading, and libraries as does the librarian, the teachers, and the students themselves. This did not happen because we brought a few volunteer groups into a village. This happened because we have long term staff, a commitment to and a relationship with this community, and because we focused on long-term changes, not short-term results. Volunteers were able to start the ball rolling and thereby increasing the impact of their work long after they leave.
The same types of changes are visible in those who travel with us. Entire shifts in mindsets – 2 people currently doing PhDs and many doing masters research on Cambodia, sustainable tourism, education – things inspired from their trip with PEPY. People who traveled with us and painted a mural on the wall of a school highlighting the need to use a filter, not the water pump, did not see changes in behavior after their week visit to Cambodia. We didn’t really see changes 2 months later either. But one year later, not a single person in the village was drinking directly from the pump. Those changes take time, but the travelers able to contribute, through their actions, funding, and public support for the projects, and sometimes even start these long-term changes during their time with PEPY. We are here, so we can make changes when we do something wrong. We keep people informed about the impact of their work. And that keeps them coming back.