Ye Zi is the founder and president of a non-governmental organization (NGO) known as International Charity Association of Cambodia.
Speaking on the origins behind the NGO’s name, she said, “At the beginning, I only thought of a simple name like the Charity Association, but I found out during registration that there were many duplicate names after it’s translated into English.
So we finalized the name after multiple changes.
”Ye Zi flew from Shenzhen to Cambodia in 2015.
She was a regular participant of charity activities in local communities where she came into contact with underprivileged children.
At the beginning, she joined few of her close friends in delivering food, daily necessities and school supplies to the children.
After talking to a local “orphan father” at the end of 2018, she began to think of raising funds to build a school.
The “orphan father” was a former abbot at a temple in Kampong Speu Province.
He was known as the “orphan father” after adopting more than 50 orphans over the past decade.
Unable to oversee temple matters and care for the orphaned children at the same time, the “father” left the temple to focus on the children.
“A charity organization built an orphanage for them a few years ago but as the children were growing up, education became more urgent,” Ye Zi recalled.
Ye Zi was concerned and thought of ways to help.
After returning to the city, she discussed with several friends to raise funds for building a school.
Her husband showed great support after hearing about the children’s plight.
He said, “you can collect donations first, and I’ll add more if the funds are insufficient”.
Ye’s good friend Bao’er knew about her plans to raise money and defended her against rumors that she is doing it for fame.
“There are always people who accuse Ye of taking advantage of other people’s money to build a school. In fact, she donated the biggest amount of money.” With the strong support of her family, friends and Jiangxi Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia, Ye Zi collected US$37,000 for the project.
“It’s not easy for Chinese citizens to work overseas. We don’t have any requirements on the amount of donations. Every little bit counts.” said Ye Zi.
In three months, the first school was built with two classrooms and an office next to the orphanage.
Seeing the happy smiles of the children and the villagers, Ye Zi and her friends could envision the future direction of their efforts.
“Since we have limited abilities, we can only focus on one area to make a small contribution.
The children and education are our focus.” Ye Zi said.
In order to run the organization in line with local regulations in the long term, Ye Zi and her friends had to restructure the organization, formulate rules and regulations, and formally apply for registration with the Cambodian govern-ment.
The “International Charity Association of Cambodia” received the green light to establish in March 2020, becoming one of the few Chinese charity organizations in Cambodia.
There are currently 168 registered members and 30 volunteers at the NGO.
Yu Ming is one of the active volunteers.
He has been in Cambodia for more than 10 years and runs three tea shops.
Yu Ming met Ye Zi in early 2020 when the COVID-19 outbreak took hold in China.
Ye Zi managed to import medical masks from India and distributed them to her friends and the Cambodian people.
“I signed up as a volunteer when she sought help at the time,” Yu Ming recalled.
In five days, volunteers distributed 10,000 masks and epidemic prevention manuals in Chinese, Cambodian and English at four locations in Phnom Penh.
Yu Ming, who is responsible and has the ability to get things done, was soon appointed as the volunteer team leader.
The International Charity Association of Cambodia did not cease donations during the pandemic.
The second school in Siem Reap Province was officially opened on June 1, 2020.
The school, which cost over US$50,000, is equipped with four classrooms and an office and furnished with customized desks and chairs from China.
The NGO has started raising money for a third and fourth school at Kratié and Banteay Meanchey provinces.
Volunteers recently visited a school, located close to the Cambodian-Thai border.
The car journey takes more than eight hours and volunteers had to transfer to a tractor to reach the school.
“We will bring construction personnel and invite local village heads and principals to visit the site, make ensure a school is needed and is in line with the Cambodian government’s plans.
In addition, we are prudent in our planning and do not waste a cent.” Yu Ming said.
Chinese citizens have gathered in Cambodia from all over the country.
They include He Feng, a beauty shopkeeper from Beijing, Liu Meifang, a mom from Qingdao, Zhang Mingyan, owner of a garment factory in Nanchang and Qian Duoduo, or known as “slash boy” from Chengdu.
While working hard to make a living, they also devote their time to improve the education of Cambodian children.
They are not only contributing to China and Cambodia’s friendship, but also promoting a good image of Chinese citizens abroad.
“In the future, we will continue to contribute to children’s education in Cambodia and we look forward to welcoming the participation and support of more people and organizations.” said Ye Zi.
Cambodia increases minimum wage for garment industry
The Cambodian Labor Advisory Committee recently announced that the government, trade union and employers have voted not to adjust the minimum wage for garment and footwear industry in 2021.
However, Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen decided to raise the minimum wage by US$2 to $192 in 2021.
Cambodia’s garment and footwear industry has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and partial withdrawal of EU tariff preferences.
Lu Qijian, secretary general of Cambodian Garment Manufacturers Association, told reporters that more than 150 factories have suspended their operations, affecting as many as 150,000 workers.
Any increase in costs will affect the competitiveness of businesses in the current economic downturn.
The trade union is not satisfied with the outcome of the government’s minimum wage decision.
Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said the minimum wage hike was too small to keep up with the inflation rate and could not guarantee a decent life for workers.
The union previously proposed a salary increase to US$202.35.
“Hundreds of companies in our trade union stopped business.
Although the situation has improved slightly, we are still concerned about the future of the garment industry.” said Ath Thorn.
To reduce the impact of COVID-19 on businesses, the Cambodian government has introduced trade facilitation measures and provid-ed cash subsidies to affected families.
About $78 million in cash subsidies have been handed out to about 670,000 poor families since June 24, according to statistics from Cambodia’s Ministry of Economy and Finance.
Government revenue declined 10.72% year-on-year in the first seven months of 2020, but expenditure rose 18.31% in the same period.
A photo dated August 17 shows a China-built water tower in Mok Kampoul District’s Svay Ampear Commune in Kandal Province, Cambodia.
The commune is about an hour’s drive from the Cambodian capital city of Phnom Penh.
The water tower is one of the achievements of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation mechanism.
China’s support has boosted the development of two poor villages amid the COVID-19 pandemic.