Kanha from Cambodia (Asian Girl Ambassador 2012)

Kanha (right) with Garden of Hope Foundation CEO, Ms. Hui-Jung CHI

Kanha (right) with Garden of Hope Foundation CEO, Ms. Hui-Jung CHI

Kanha Keourm is a 15-year-old girl from Battambang, Cambodia. Like girls her age around the world, she enjoys playing with friends, but what makes her story special is that through playing, Kanha can live a better, safer life and help others to do the same. The reason she can do all this is that she’s a member of the Mighty Girls soccer team.

In Cambodia, soccer is regarded as a men’s sport, but the SALT Academy, which was set up by a FIFA coach, Samuel Schweingruber, is working to change that. The organizers hope that by encouraging girls to play, they can keep them safe from human traffickers. The academy has established several local female soccer teams, and the most successful of them is the Mighty Girls.

Kanha has been a key member of the team since 2010, and she helped them win the national championship in 2012. She has also played for the Mighty Girls in international tournaments, but being part of this team isn’t just about being a star on the soccer field. Each member of the Mighty Girls is required to work hard in school, and Kanha is now top of her class.

Kanha (left) was 2012 Asian Girl Ambassador.

Kanha (left) was 2012 Asian Girl Ambassador.

Thanks to her efforts, she is likely to become the first person in her family to finish secondary school. Many girls from her region, including all but one of her sisters, leave Cambodia and make a dangerous and illegal trip to Thailand in the hopes of finding manual work. By staying in school, Kanha believes that she can inspire other girls to study hard and complete their schooling.

Along with her teammates, Kanha also coaches younger girls in soccer, helps them with their English studies and teaches them valuable life skills. Speaking about this work, she says, “I am excited to know that even though I am small, I know how to teach and can see all the girls at the schools learning more too.”

In soccer and in life, Kanha is a winner! (By Andrew Crosthwaite)

You can view her PowerPoint Presentation here

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Erdenetuul from Mongolia (Asian Girl Ambassador 2012)

ErErdenetuul Batkhuyag is a 15-year-old Mongolian student and youth worker. She lives with her family in a “ger” community outside the capital city of Ulan Bator. “Ger” is the Mongolian word for a traditional home, and large communities of them lie outside the country’s big cities. People from these communities, especially girls and women, often live difficult lives and are cut off from Mongolia’s commercial districts and public services.

Like thousands of other girls in ger communities, Erdenetuul has a lot of responsibilities at home. In fact, a lot have so many household chores to do that they end up neglecting their schoolwork. Erdenetuul feels that her decision to join the local youth development program saved her from this kind of lifestyle. At the youth club, she learned a lot of new skills, including how to operate a computer and work on the internet, and she now helps teach others.

Erdenetuul and the MYDSC

Erdenetuul tutoring a girl in the primary school.

Erdenetuul tutoring a girl in the primary school.

The MYDSC (Mongolian Youth Development Services Center) empowers young people, teaching them life skills and organizing youth social entrepreneurship programs, such as internet and training centers. Erdenetuul helped to establish one of these centers, and she works there four days a week, helping people open email accounts and search for information.

In addition to her work at the internet and training center, Erdenetuul and the other club members have set up a volunteer scheme to help elderly and disabled people in the community, and they’ve also organized competitions and events to raise awareness about the harmful effects of smoking and drinking alcohol.

Erdenetuul’s Future Plans

Erdenetuul says that girls from ger communities have little access to computers and the internet. To change that, she wants to set up a girls’ internet club. She also wants to change people’s attitudes towards the physical and sexual abuse women and girls face in Mongolia.

She has big plans for the future, and most of them involve helping others. (By Andrew Crosthwaite)

You can view her PowerPoint Presentation here