by Mom Chantara Soleil (with support from Kiv Phearun and Samreth Amara)
Two young ladies were recognized as outstanding community volunteers to welcome the recently passed Khmer New Year for selflessly promoting the development work in Srei Snam district of Siem Reap province.
Ms. Tol Solean, 29 years old has been handling humble survival occupations as rice farmer and poultry grower, while volunteering as community preschool teacher and cashier of village saving group.
Another lady, 27-year-old Ms. Hoeuy Leum has been serving as community preschool teacher, village health focal point, and saving group and school support committee member, despite the fact that she is not well-off and has big family to take care of.
The voluntary works do not tangibly improve their living condition, yet are making them busier. However, they said the services make them happier and allow them feel that their lives are more meaningful.
“A lot of people in the community know me. They respect and trust me, though for some I am younger. When I speak they listen to me. I feel this is more important than having a lot of money. Sometimes they share food with me, too,” said Ms. Solean.
There are some challenges, but Ms. Leum sees the positive side of the task: “When they have problems, even at night time, the community people come and awake me. I see them crying. I see those in debts. There are many issues. I do what I can do. As I can succeed in some cases, this inspire me. I walk pass their house, everyone greets me.”
According to Mr. Kiv Phearun, community official in charge of the district, it is important to recognize development enabler from the community themselves. The role of NGOs is not permanent, but communities need continuous development although without NGOs. Community volunteers will take over the NGOs role when the NGOs are gone.
The recognition of outstanding community volunteers is being piloted by Plan International Cambodia in Srei Snam district, kick-starting in a coincidence with the country’s New Year celebration.