Empowering Youth in Cambodia (EYC) provides medical care at each of EYC’s 4 schools in poor communities, otherwise known as slums (i.e. residents do not hold land titles). Students in the schools are provided a basic but holistic set of health services including regular health and hygiene training, weekly medical clinics at each school, referrals for serious cases that can’t be treated in the clinics, and dental care. Additionally, the people in the community receive health services including family planning training and long term birth control, medical treatment, and de-worming treatment every 6 months.
EYC started in 2006 providing education and leadership development for young people. The services made a difference and are still much appreciated by the community, but the founder Drew McDowell was constantly confronted with illnesses in the students and their families. For EYC’s first 3 years they were unable to do much beyond taking kids with serious problems to a clinic or hospital, as well as some to a private dentist. “Kids were constantly getting sick, and we weren’t doing much to address it. Our team was good at inspiring and training young people, but when people got sick, and sometimes it was serious, we felt pretty helpless” said Drew.As the medical NGO One-2-One started to form and partner with EYC, they were able to provide a whole new level of support for students and their families. Not surprisingly, the costs to provide health services started to rise, and EYC had to reign in expenses. Once a monthly budget was established, the team in EYC was able to work to support the health programs, establish partnerships, train volunteers from the communities, and the results were impressive. So impressive, it is hard to summarize or understand without seeing it firsthand; sick people being treated, cavities being filled (smiles returned), behaviors changed and hygiene improved, a new generation that understands reproductive health, woman in control of their bodies, and real care being shown to people who are in a tough situation. Each week there is a line of people waiting to see the medical team, there are tuk tuks full of kids going to the dentist, and there are trained young people on the ground to educate and help in all kinds of situations. In 2012 EYC (with help from our partners) accomplished ; 2,515 Patient-visits with a doctor. 1,152 Patient-visits to a dentist. 73 Women received long term birth control (IUD or implant). While the road to improving the health of a community is not an easy one, these results along with a continued health education message will affect long term changes in the communities EYC works.