A message from Co-Founder Johanna:
Can you remember when you just graduated from high school or your vocational training and…
- were looking for your first job?
- had to write your first CV, and were nervous before your very first job interview?
- were thinking about getting a college degree? But you weren’t quite sure whether you were cut out for academics, or whether you would be able to afford tuition fees and living costs, even if you had a part-time job?
- moved to a city that was a lot larger than where you grew up – and seemed to function with a totally different set of rules?
- needed to finance first small investments to get started in your job or university, such as a set of nice clothes, a smartphone, your first laptop or first bike or motorcycle to commute?
- had your first accident or sickness that required a proper stay at the hospital and came with substantial medical bills?
- hit your first real motivational low at a new job or during studies and were tempted to just quit it all?
All of these are situations where most of us would reach out to our family, friends, and mentors for support. Most of us would be or have been lucky enough to also get that support until we were able to stand on our own two “real adult” feet.
This has been the case for our NGO’s two co-founders, Johanna and Julian. We won the birth lottery by being born in one of the world’s ten wealthiest countries: Austria. We grew up in a society with a well-established social safety-net that could take care of the most fundamental dangers we might encounter. On top of that, we were raised by a loving and supportive family. We grew up in a family that believed that every family member was eligible for the support package that most met our needs and would set us up for the best version of our future adult selves. This is an immense privilege, that both of us are very well aware of.
But… imagine living in a country without student subsidies, health insurance, unemployment support, and any other social safety nets. Imagine not having the safety and security of a family to rely on. Imagine having no one to turn to for financial support or life advice. Imagine being the first person in your network to move to a city and approach higher education?
What if you were smart and motivated, but just so happen to have been born in one of the poorest countries on this planet?
More often than not this would lead straight into accumulating debt, low-pay jobs, and ultimately a perpetuating poverty trap.
But what if there was a way out of said poverty trap? A platform that provides the safety net for young adults, so that they can slowly and steadily build up their own life?
Julian has volunteered in Cambodia for more than seven years and built close relationships with many people, most of which are orphans that are slowly but surely coming of age. After watching them grow up for so many years, he has realized that they would all be able to find their way to independence and self-sufficiency – but that this still requires support throughout those first years of adulthood, both financially, but also emotionally.
Eventually, the two of us decided to found our organization.
“Thomlang”, which is Khmer for “growing up”, is here to be a helping hand. We are here to be a port of advice, motivation, and intermediate financial support. The “family life insurance” most of us can count on when venturing into adulthood and aspiring to achieve more than the generation(s) before.
Thomlang – Cambodian Youth Support is connecting a cohort of young Cambodians that have concluded secondary school, high school, or vocational training and are embarking on adulthood with a network of mentors and donation-based financial support. We strive to offer support in a needs-based manner. Our approach emphasizes eye-level and trusting conversations, advice, and mentorship, and is aimed at helping our cohort achieve long-term financial and emotional independence.
Thomlang – Cambodian Youth Support offers a platform for those that were not given the same unearned privilege as we were. To help those that are just a stipend, laptop, or medical bill away from following their dreams of a better future for themselves and their children.