Cambodia has a booming economy, fewer residents than ever before living under the poverty line and rising enrollment numbers for primary school. All in all, Cambodia is a country in rapid development. Still, the country suffers from a range of social problems – many directly affecting women and children who are overlooked by the system. Lacking education being one of them.
The history of education in Cambodia is both dramatic and tragic. In 1975 the Khmer Rouge seized power in the country, and as a result ca 25 % of the population were killed in the following genocide. Education was seen as dangerous by the new rulers, teachers were targeted by them and schools were banned. In the following four years before they were defeated, the Khmer Rouge destroyed infrastructure, hospitals, schools and the financial system in the county. As a result, an entire generation of Cambodians was deprived of their right to education, which has had a ripple effect into the present day. One of them is Phymean - the founder of PIO.
PIO, People Improvement Organization, is an NGO working to break the cycle of poverty and through education, and build a brighter future for the children of Cambodia. The organization serves 1300 of the country’s most marginalized children daily by providing them with education, food, water, shelter and healthcare. Evelina Fredriksson is an active board member of PIO, and has worked closely with the organization for several years.
In collaboration with MAP, the Multidisciplinary Action Projects program at Ross Business School, a selected group of students were invited to Cambodia to work with Evelina Fredriksson and PIO. Through empathic meetings with leadership, community and children alike, the students used their experience to make a great difference at the organization. While curating mindful engagements and individual connections between the groups, the students supported PIO in developing and extending their fundraising strategy - while being part of a movement to support the legacy victims of the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge to better lives.
Professor Michael Gordon at Ross Business School is personally recruiting a small group of projects with strong social aims that benefit from business thinking to take part in the MAP program and have been doing so for 25 years. He deems this project was among the most successful of all time — from PIO’s, the students' and the school's perspective alike.
Evelina Fredriksson was later invited to hold a lecture at the Positive Links Speaker Series in Ann Arbour, U.S to share insights and learnings from the project with students and staff.