PEPY: Adventurous Living. Responsible Giving.

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

I've got a fantastic resource to share with you today! We first read of Daniela Ruby Papi's adventures with PEPY in an excerpt from Nola Lee Kelsey's The Voluntary Traveler: Adventures from the Road Best Traveled. Inspired by this amazing spirit of volunteering, we contacted Daniela to learn more about PEPY, an educational, non-profit organization, as well as an adventure and volunteer tour operation that funds their educational programs and social development partner organizations.

"At PEPY, we want to live in a world where everyone has access to quality education, increased health and environmental awareness. Through our programs in Cambodia, we are committed to making improvements in education, the environment, and health by investing in a local team of dedicated leaders and connecting them with the tools to help deliver the changes they want to see in the world.

If you too believe that education is the key to change in the world, why don't you join us?"

 

 

 

Look at the photos, read the words - you will be inspired, too, by Daniela's journey and work. We were lucky enough to sit down and talk with her about PEPY, volunteering, challenges, and more. Here's what she had to say...

 

PEPYride Cambodia

 

 

WE:  Please tell us about your organization, PEPY...

DP: PEPY is an educational development organization funded through educational tours.  PEPY's educational programs are focused on increasing the quality of education offered in rural Cambodia and we accomplish this by investing time in people.  Through teacher training, community driven resource creation, and school support committee building, we are working to increase the quality of education offered in our 11 partner schools.

PEPY Tours offers edu-ventures: educational travel options which embody PEPY's motto of "Adventurous Living. Responsible Giving."  These range from 1-3 week bike tours to educational trips for students focused around a specific development topic.

 

PEPYride Cambodia

 

PEPYride Cambodia

 

PEPYride Cambodia 

 

WE:  What was the genesis of your site?

DP: The genesis of PEPY was a 5 week bike trip 5 friends and I planned through Cambodia in 2005 where we supported educational programs and raised funds to support one of our partners to build a school. When we arrived in Cambodia before the bike trip and went to see the school we had funded, we quickly realized that schools don't teach kids.... people do. Since then we have used responsible tour options to generate support and awareness for the development lessons we were learning and to help raise funds for educational capacity building programs.

 

PEPYride Cambodia

 

PEPYride Cambodia

 

PEPYride Cambodia

 

 

WE:  What does PEPY Tours provide for travelers?

DP: PEPY Tours offers bike tours, experiential education trips, and custom tours such as those for school groups or families, which give travelers a chance to learn while they travel. We have realized the error of our initial trips: we need to learn before we can act. Rather than focusing on pure volunteer experiences and claiming to create long-lasting change through short-term tours, we are now focused on supporting and learning about sustainable long-term programs and reminding travelers that the way they can help create the changes they want to see in the world are through changing the ways they give, travel, and live once they leave the trip.

Our tours offer a range of experiences, from homestays and rural programs to more luxurious experiences near Angkor Wat with educational components our study themes.

 

PEPYride Cambodia

 

PEPYride Cambodia

 

 

WE: What have been some of your challenges (and rewards) in starting these projects?

DP: Finding the right staff for our needs in Cambodia has been a big problem. There are many young Cambodians in their 20s who are looking to be a part of the improvement of their country for future generations, but finding higher level managers with experience and a similar attitude are harder to find. Cambodia lost a generation of educated people during  the Khmer Rouge and it has taken a huge toll on the current population.  What, in the US, might have been a financial barrier (ie: "We don't have the $150,000 needed to hire an early literacy book development expert.") in Cambodia is a staffing issue (ie: "That person is rare and hard to find.").

We have learned that a passion for our mission is more important than some higher level skills and that those can be learned. We are working towards local management of all of PEPY's programs.

 

PEPYride Cambodia

 

PEPYride Cambodia

 

 

WE:  How can development - and voluntourism - really make a difference?

DP: I believe that development work will be most effective if it is investing time in people, not giving things away. It is important that there is thorough monitoring and follow up and that the partners are both committed to a place for the long term and understand the issues involved.  If a voluntourism program or a development initiative is designed to give things away or designed with little to no understanding of the local situation, the impacts are less likely to have a lasting long-term effect.

 

PEPYride Cambodia

 

PEPYride Cambodia

 

 

WE:  How do you suggest families give back, while traveling?

DP: We used to offer "volunteer" focused trips, but now we believe education is the most important part of our tours. I think the best way to give back is to educate our kids that achieving changes in the world starts by us making changes in ourselves. If we learn to be role models for the changes we want to see, not just in our 1 week vacation, but throughout our lives, we can continue to inspire changes in others. By educating their children about long-term development projects in the area, visiting their work, and inspiring their children to become long terms partners with a program they are passionate about, parents can inspire life-long responsible giving practices in their children. The most valuable gift and our most limited resource is our time. By helping kids give their time to learn about and then support causes they believe in, they will learn to be generous in very important ways.

 

PEPYride Cambodia

 

PEPYride Cambodia

 

PEPYride Cambodia

 

 

WE: Thanks so very much, Daniela! Your work with PEPY is so very inspiring.

 

For more information, please see:

http://pepycambodia.org/

All photos courtesy and copyright of PEPY.

Comments (1)

  • pen4hire

    12 years 6 months ago

    I'm so glad that you ran this interview. I read about PEPY on the Internet some time ago, and since I have a soft spot for Cambodia, I was very happy to read about the work they do. Nice to know a little more.

     

    Vera Marie Badertscher

    http://atravelerslibrary.com

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