“Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in Asia and long-term economic development remains a daunting challenge, inhibited by endemic corruption, limited educational opportunities, high income inequality, and poor job prospects. Approximately 4 million people live on less than $1.25 per day, and 37% of Cambodian children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition. More than 50% of the population is less than 25 years old.” (CIA World Factbook, Cambodia, 2014)
The people and nation of Cambodia have suffered greatly in the recent past. Wars and the genocidal reign of terror and brutality by the Khmer Rouge left Cambodian society in shambles. Memories of the killing fields followed by life in the refugee camps have left a collective scare on the nation. The resulting dependency and lack of skills and initiative has created widespread poverty and social problems for a generation. People in Cambodia are desperately looking for help to overcome this repressive past.
There is also a new generation coming of age, who have not experienced the horrors of the Pol Pot regime. They are looking for ways to improve their lives, families and society. With a population over 14 million people, 70% are under the age of 30, and 52% are under the age of 21. This represents a tremendous opportunity, yet they still face enormous obstacles created by poverty, institutional corruption, and extreme types of exploitation like human trafficking and slavery.