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Chikara Cambodia: Empowering Youth for a Cleaner and Sustainable Future

by Surya Narayan
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In the heart of Southeast Asia, where the ancient temples of Angkor Wat stand testament to a rich history, a beacon of hope is emerging. Chikara Cambodia, a non-profit organization founded in 2019 by Carina van Silfhout and Giel Hagelaar, is making waves in the realm of education and environmental stewardship. With a mission to educate and empower young Cambodians, Chikara Cambodia is weaving a narrative of change, resilience, and sustainability.

The founders, driven by their admiration for Cambodia’s beauty and potential, also recognized the environmental challenges that loomed over this captivating land. In response, they laid the foundation for an organization that would not only address educational disparities but also tackle environmental issues head-on.

At the core of Chikara Cambodia’s initiatives is the unwavering belief that education is a powerful tool for change. The organization focuses on supporting talented yet disadvantaged youth, providing them with scholarships and mentorship opportunities. By doing so, they are not merely offering access to education but creating a pathway for young minds to become catalysts for positive change.

One of Chikara Cambodia’s flagship projects, ‘Soap in return for plastic waste,’ exemplifies their commitment to environmental sustainability and community engagement. In this innovative initiative, students supported by the organization produce eco-friendly soap in their own factory. This soap is then distributed to schools and communities, accompanied by workshops on hygiene, environmental awareness, and plastic recycling.

The brilliance of the project lies in its two-fold impact. Firstly, it addresses the issue of plastic pollution by encouraging communities to exchange plastic waste for soap. This not only reduces the environmental burden of discarded plastic but also promotes a circular economy where waste is repurposed into valuable resources.

The recycled plastic is then converted into educational materials for schools. This innovative strategy not only addresses the plastic problem at its source, but also provides much-needed educational tools, resulting in a long-term and significant solution to two interconnected challenges. Chikara’s goal with this is to close the plastic circle. 

Chikara Cambodia’s reach extends far beyond its environmental project. With a commitment to education and environmental awareness, the organization has touched the lives of over 25,000 Cambodians through its workshops and activities. By instilling a sense of responsibility towards the environment and fostering leadership qualities, Chikara Cambodia is nurturing a generation of individuals who will undoubtedly become the environmental leaders of the future.

The organization’s success is further amplified by its collaborations with local and international partners. By forming strategic alliances, Chikara Cambodia has expanded its impact and created a network that transcends geographical boundaries. This collaborative approach underscores the importance of collective action in addressing global challenges, emphasizing that positive change is achievable when communities and organizations unite for a common cause.

Chikara Cambodia extends an open invitation to individuals worldwide to join its mission and support its cause. Whether through donations, sponsorships, or volunteering, there are numerous ways for passionate individuals to contribute to Chikara Cambodia’s goals. The organization’s motto, ‘Educate for a cleaner world,’ encapsulates the essence of its mission – a belief that education is not only a means to enlighten minds but also a powerful force to create a cleaner, more sustainable world.

In a world often plagued by environmental crises, Chikara Cambodia stands as a shining example of how education, coupled with innovative solutions, can pave the way for a brighter future. As they continue to inspire and empower the youth of Cambodia, Chikara Cambodia is sowing the seeds of positive change that will undoubtedly yield a harvest of environmental leaders and a cleaner, more sustainable world for generations to come.


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