Cambodia: OCCO

Sipho talking to class
OCCO students
volunteer teacher at Trang village

OCCO is a small NGO operating in Prey Dach Village, Otaki Commune, Thmorkol District, Battambang Province, Cambodia since 2005 and located approximately 12km from Battambang town.

OCCO’s main purpose is to provide language, social and personal development for disadvantaged children and young people from three villages (Prey Dach, Prey Torteng and Trang) within the Otaki commune. Increasingly OCCO also supports youth leadership development and family food generation initiatives in response to community need. The basis of OCCO’s work is the relationships formed with village leadership, the children and young people in the language program, and with individual families within the commune and their unique circumstances.

Currently OCCO provides English and Khmer language development for approximately 200 children and young people through its Language Development Program, with those from approximately 60 very disadvantaged families within Prey Dach village being a high priority for the work of the NGO generally.

As a small NGO working within a community experiencing change at a range of levels – social, technological, economic, cultural and demographic – OCCO is seeking to strengthen its capacity in terms of infrastructure, systems and personnel in order to contribute to meet these changing circumstances and continue its leadership role in community support.

OCCO is currently facing an increasing demand on its Language Development Program along with the need to respond to other pressing community needs, particularly associated with family socioeconomic, educational and health support for an increasing number of very poor families. The poverty level is high in a large number of families within the villages that OCCO serves. Lack of income, no employment prospects, no land, health issues, family size and lack of education are some of the contributing factors. This situation leads to school dropout, family dysfunction, a higher risk of health problems, social isolation and lack of opportunity to break the poverty cycle. The new partnership with the indigo foundation will consolidate the current Language Development Program and enhance its sustainability and potential outcomes for the children and young people it serves, and for the eight volunteer teachers.

Participation in the Language Development Program is open to any child or young person from Prey Dach, Prey Torteng or Trang villages. Currently approximately 57% of attendees are female and six out of the eight volunteer teachers are female.

Since its inception OCCO has not been a recipient of donor funding for specific projects. Rather, OCCO was established as an integral component of the Prey Dach community to meet a need for Khmer and English language development and staff work prominently on a voluntary basis. This program has been sustained and extended over the last six years and has continued to meet this need without predictable funding from either the children and  young people in the program, or from interested visitors who have provided one-off financial or resource support.

The overall intent of the partnership with indigo is to contribute to the building a stronger, more resilient community within the villages of Prey Dach, Prey Torteng and Trang, initially through support of the language development program. The strengthening of OCCO is an organisation is an integral component of this process. The Language Development Program is an existing part of community development and parents of participating children and young people have high expectations that OCCO will help their children have a better future.

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Project Coordinator: Cressida Hall