Peace Corps Volunteer Uses Sports to Educate Boys and Girls in Cambodia

March 26, 2015

New facility to encourage girls’ participation

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 26, 2015 – Peace Corps volunteer Fatuma Youb of Columbia Heights, Minnesota, is using sports to help more than a thousand Cambodian students and community members develop critical leadership, team-building and healthy lifestyle skills. Youb and her counterparts are building the area’s first sports education and recreation center at a local high school to provide the community – particularly girls and women – with a safe space for sports and health education. Once the facility is complete, Youb and her teaching colleagues will lead sports practices, local competitions and health education classes.

“Sports teams offer the opportunity to learn the value of cooperation and teamwork, and enable the community to play a supportive role,” said Youb, a graduate of the University of Minnesota who has been living in Cambodia since 2013. “Being involved in sports and learning about health will improve the overall health of the student body.”

Girls in Youb’s community are often discouraged from playing sports due to a lack of available resources. The closest athletic facility is miles away and driving conditions are often dangerous during the rainy season in Cambodia. This new facility will have a court for both boys’ and girls’ teams to practice basketball, volleyball and soccer.

“My female students are very interested in learning to play sports,” Youb said. “The new court will give students the opportunity to exercise and play in a safe place that they never had before.”

Youb’s project is an example of similar projects to come under the new Let Girls Learn initiative, a powerful collaboration between First Lady Michelle Obama and the Peace Corps to promote girls’ education and empowerment around the world. As part of Let Girls Learn, the Peace Corps is expanding the number of volunteers who work on girls’ education and empowerment, and giving volunteers more tools to break down barriers.

Youb and her community partners have secured contractors to build the center, community volunteers to help with the labor, and teachers to instruct the athletic education program. A portion of the funds for her project are being raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP), which supports Peace Corps volunteer community projects worldwide. To receive funding through the PCPP, a community must make at least a 25 percent contribution to the total project cost and outline success indicators, which help to ensure community ownership and a greater chance of long-term sustainability. Click here to support Youb’s project in Cambodia.

“My community is really excited about this project, and I can’t wait to see it completed,” Youb said.

Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet and First Lady Michelle Obama recently traveled to Cambodia to see up close how community-driven solutions – which are key components of the Let Girls Learn initiative – are changing girls’ lives. Cambodia is one of the first 11 countries to be included in the initiative.

About Peace Corps/Cambodia: There are 91 volunteers in Cambodia working with their communities on projects in education and health. During their service in Cambodia, volunteers learn to speak Khmer. More than 360 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Cambodia since the program was established in 2007.

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends the best and brightest Americans abroad on behalf of the United States to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Volunteers work at the grassroots level to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their service, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today’s global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, nearly 220,000 Americans of all ages have served in 140 countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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