Inspiring Experience: Celebrity and Filming Visits to the Forgotten

by Mom Chantara Soleil

Actress and Executive Director of a Hong Kong’s leading theatre company The Nonsensemakers Ms. Jo Ngai Yee-shan was impressed with various service accesses enabled for rural girls and women so that they can meaning fully contribute to the development of Cambodia.

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“Though more work needs to be done, I am glad that awareness and services on nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, education, hygiene and sanitation, and livelihood improvement are increasingly accessible by girls and women in remote areas of Cambodia,” said the actress.

She added that promotion of women’s role is an inevitable stepping stone not only to grease economic growth, but to advance peace and human rights.

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The journalist-turned actress concluded her impression after a recent one-week visit by delegation of Plan International offices in Cambodia and Hong Kong, to far-off communities in Siem Reap and Ratanak Kiri province of Cambodia.

According to Chief Executive Officer Ms. Kanie Siu, Ms. Jo Ngai Yee-shan has volunteered to be Goodwill Ambassador of Plan International Hong Kong and worked hard to mobilised resources to promote situation of girls and women with unfortunate backgrounds.

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“The main purpose of the Goodwill Ambassador’s visit is to witness progress contributed by Plan International to the lives of girls and women so that she can echo it to the organization’s donors, especially during the coming International Day for Girls on 11 October,” added Chief Executive Officer.

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This was the second Hong Kong’s celebrity visit to project sites of Plan International Cambodia since 2012 trip of well-known actor and actress Ms. Louisa So Yuk Wa and Mr. Ekin Cheng, as told the host team representative Mr. Hor Kosal.

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Improved Rural Sanitation: Success and Next Journey

by Mom Chantara Soleil

Promoting lasting access to latrine use and personal hygiene demands not only the hard work of the local authorities, but also convinced acceptance of its long-term gains by the locals, usually those stricken by poverty.

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With this in mind, Plan International Cambodia and partners in collaboration with Ministry of Rural Development have been organizing series of disseminations and consultations with concerned parties at both national and sub-national levels in order to tap lessons learned from previous interventions.

The results from the gatherings will revitalize rural sanitation improvement interventions financed by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and the Global Sanitation Fund in five more provinces, namely Kampot, Prey Veng, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom, and Kratie with bad need for proper sanitation.

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About two and a half decades ago, only 11% of rural Cambodians had access to improved sanitation, simply put the use of household latrine, handwashing and other personal hygiene.

To date, more than 50% of the rural population are benefiting from the adoption of affordable household latrine use as well as personal hygiene.

More work in particular that is built on past success, nevertheless, needs to be done as the Royal Government of Cambodia is ambitious to ensure 60% of rural Cambodians have access to improved sanitation by 2018 and 100% by 2025.

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According to Rural Development Secretary of State H.E. Try Meng, the ministry this year has endorsed the Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene action plan to further grease the business up to its full speed.

With continuing momentum of good work and clear direction, Plan International Cambodia, partners and government counterparts are optimistic about the next journey.

Reflecting Progress of Rural Sanitation Improvement

by Mom Chantara Soleil

One fifth of Cambodia’s child mortality is caused by diarrheal infections mainly driven by poor sanitation and the practice of open defecation.

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As a leading sanitation promoter, Plan International Cambodia in cooperation with the Ministry of Rural Development is bringing together around 50 government and NGO officials working directly in the field to reflect the progress of CRSHIP2.

CRSHIP2, or Cambodia Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement Programme phase 2, is an intervention to join hands with the government and like-minded development agencies to reach the goal of ensuring 60% of Cambodians with access to improved sanitation across the country by 2018.

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“The workshop will allow us to see the progress of our work as well as the challenges, so that we together can address and step ahead on the right track to further ensure improved sanitation in our target provinces,” said Rural Development Secretary of State H.E. Try Meng who chaired the opening of the workshop this morning at Himawari Hotel here in Phnom Penh.

Sanitation contributes positively to child nutrition as well as their physical growth and cognitive development. According to the Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey 2014, in Cambodia more than 32% of children under five years old are stunted, 24% underweight, and 10% wasted.

Executed by Plan International Cambodia and partners through the support from Ministry and Departments of Rural Development, both the first and second phase of CRSHIP’s have been financed by the Global Sanitation Fund and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council since 2011.

According to the Country Director of Plan International Cambodia Mr. Jan Jaap Kleinrensink, during the first phrase of CRSHIP implementation from 2011-2015, over 600,000 people (about 50% of them are children) especially those poverty stricken and live remote communities, have successfully adopted the use of latrines.

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CRSHIP1 freed 734 villages in Takeo, Kandal, Kampong Speu, Kampong Cham and Svay Rieng from open defecation and villagers habituated better personal hygiene.

In its second phase, running until December 2018, the programme is on the threshold of phasing in five other provinces, namely Kampot, Prey Veng, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Thom, and Kratie, which are most deprived of sanitation access.

“In one of my recent field visits, I am so inspired by the smiles of community children and their impression. Several of them told me how happy they are to have latrine at home so that they don’t need to go to the bush to answer the call of nature, especially in the rains. Like some of you here, being a parent I cannot imagine risking my kids’ security with something as simple as answering the call of nature, let alone other implications of the absence of sanitation facilities,” added Mr. Jan Jaap Kleinrensink.

H.E. Try Meng expressed his appreciation with the result of the CRSHIP1 and repeated his support for the implementation of CRSHIP2.

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Cambodia has made remarkable progress in promoting rural sanitation lately. As a result, nearly half of rural Cambodians are now having access to improved sanitation, compared to only 11% in 1990.

(#CRSHIP2)

Safe Schools to Teach and to Learn in Vulnerable and Remote Areas

by Mom Chantara Soleil

Preventing the unnecessary loss of young lives and disrupted schooling as a result of both natural and man-made disasters is the focus of a new initiative launched yesterday in Stung Treng Province by Plan International Cambodia, Child Rights Foundation and life insurer Prudential (Cambodia) Life Assurance PLC.

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Financed by life insurer Prudential (Cambodia) Life Assurance PLC, the so-called three year safe school project – from mid-2016 to mid-2019 – is implemented by child rights NGOs Plan International Cambodia and Child Rights Foundation.

“Quality education is a priority of the Royal Government of Cambodia as well as the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport. The quality cannot be fully realized if interruptions caused by poor school facilities, heavy rain, strong wind, flood, drought, so and so. School principal, teachers and children themselves know the issues best. So I encourage their lead in the work. Concerned authorities at all levels need to participate in and own the project to make it sustainable,” said H.E. Im Koch who presided over the launch.

Prudential (Cambodia) Life Assurance PLC contributed over US$300,000 of funds to get the project off the ground through Plan International Hong Kong.

Mr. Justin Chang, Prudence Foundation’s Regional Programme Manager, said, “An often-overlooked role of a life insurance company is to provide public information and activities to help keep people safe and alive, meaning this project was a natural fit for the firm.”

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“Drowning is a terrible way to lose a child,” he added. “We don’t have good numbers on drowning in Cambodia but we know it’s far too common, especially for children in rural areas.

“And it’s not just floods we’re worried about. Storms, strong winds, lightning, and road accidents can also cause death and mitigating these will also be a part of the program. There is a lot that we can do as parents, schools and wider society to keep children safe and we’re thrilled to be backing this very important project.”

The Child Rights Foundation (CRF) will help implement activities related to the program. It was established by four Cambodians in 2000 and has a mandate to work for full implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, including the rights to health and health services and a quality education.

According to Plan International Cambodia’s Country Director, Mr. Jan Jaap Kleinrensink, the safe school project will initially be rolled out in 15 schools in four communes at high risk of flooding during the rainy season to help keep kids safe when disaster strikes and ensure they can return to school as soon as possible.

“Seasonal flooding is a part of life in some parts of Cambodia but flood waters come quickly and drain slowly meaning they are not only dangerous but can disrupt communities and schools for a long time,” he added.

“The problem is particularly acute for girls as the sanitary system is often the last thing to return to normal. Boys tend to cope pretty well, but girls can’t just go behind the nearest tree so tend to stay home longer. And once they’re out of school for a long time, many of them never return. This program will make sure schools are prepared to keep kids safe and return them to the classroom as soon as possible.”

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Executive Director of Child Rights Foundation Mr. Vorn Koy said the Safe School Initiative will involve school directors, teachers, pupils and local School Support Committees (SSC’s) to ensure that there is community support for disaster risk reduction initiatives. SSCs are a national initiative where at least seven local villagers are elected to the committee to ensure communities have a say in decision making for their school’s development.

“There is limited understanding of disaster risk and disaster preparedness in Cambodia among teachers, parents and children,” he/she said. “In the rainy season floods can come quickly so it’s important that schools and their local communities are prepared to ensure there is no loss of life and as little disruption as possible to the school year.”

The project will transform the 15 participating SSCs into School Disaster Management Committees (SDMCs). These will be supported to conduct a hazard, vulnerability and capacity assessment (HVCA) and work with Children Councils to develop a Disaster Management Plan for each school to mitigate these risks and increase school safety.

These committees will closely co-operate with Commune Committees for Disaster Management (CCDM), which have been set up by the government to lead disaster management at the commune level.

The 15 schools selected for the project are from O Rei, O Svay, Thalaboriwat and Preah Rumel communes.

Stung Treng province has around 135,000 people in just over 29,000 families. It consists of Siem Bouk, Siem Phang, Sesan, Thalaboriwat and Stung Treng districts, with the provincial center – also called Stung Treng – located closely along the Mekong River.

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Safe school project was driven by the commitment of the Royal Government of Cambodia’s commitment to implement the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015. It is well aligned with the 2007 Education Law and the Child Friendly School Policy adopted by the government.

To date, across Southeast Asia more than 11,500 students have learned skills including basic first aid, school evacuation procedures and how to identify potential hazards in their classrooms. We hope our safe school project will increase the number of resilient students and school especially in Cambodia so that they can fully develop to the fullest potential.

 

Cambodia is considered one of the most hazard-prone countries in Southeast Asia, with floods considered a particular risk, especially along the shores of the Tonle Sap Lake and along Mekong River Watersheds.

 

In the last quarters of 2011 and 2013, a combination of successive typhoons and torrential rains caused extensive flooding across the country. Climate change, soil erosion caused by deforestation, and inadequate irrigation systems and water conservation measures are set to make flooding more frequent and extreme.

For more please key: #SafeSchoolInitiativeInStungTreng

សេចក្តីបំភ្លឺដោយអង្គារភ្លែនអន្តរជាតិកម្ពុជា

[English below]

ខាងក្រោមជាសេចក្តីបំភ្លឺដោយអង្គការភ្លែនអន្តរជាតិកម្ពុជា ដល់វិទ្យុអាស៊ីសេរី

អង្គការភ្លែនអន្តរជាតិកម្ពុជាសូមថ្លែងអំណគុណដល់វិទ្យុអាស៊ីសេរី ក្នុងការផ្សព្វផ្សាយការងារឆ្លើយតបនឹងគ្រោះមហន្តរាយរបស់អង្គការ (សូមអានទីនេះ http://www.rfa.org/khmer/news/politics/rkiri-authorities-accused-of-discrimination-07022016071202.html)។ បន្ថែមលើ កិច្ចសន្ទនាផ្ទាល់មាត់ និង អ៊ីម៉ែល ផ្ញើជួនលោក រដ្ឋា វិសាល អង្គការភ្លែនអន្តរជាតិកម្ពុជាសូមបញ្ជាក់បន្ថែមដូចខាងក្រោម៖

 

ខ្លឹមសារដើមពីព័ត៏មានវិទ្យុអាស៊ីសេរី

សេចក្តីបំភ្លឺ

…ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋមាននិន្នាការគាំទ្រគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិ ក្នុងភូមិកាឡៃតាវងមិនទទួលបានអំណោយមនុស្សធម៌ដែលអាជ្ញាធរស្រុកចែកជូនបើទោះបីប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្លះស្ថិតនៅក្នុងសភាពជាអ្នកក្រីក្រក្តី។… អង្គការភ្លែនអន្តរជាតិកម្ពុជា បានព្រមព្រៀងគ្នាជាមួយអជ្ញាធរមូលដ្ឋានតាំងពីមុនចាប់ផ្តើមចែកសម្ភារៈជំនួយ អំពីលក្ខខ័ណ្ឌសម្រាប់អ្នកដែលត្រូវទទួល ដែលរួមមាន៖

·  ពួកគាត់ត្រូវតែជាគ្រួសារស្ថិតក្នុងស្ថានភាពក្រីក្រប្រភេទទី១ និងទី២

·   ពួកគាត់មានការលំបាកក្នុងការទទួលបានទឹកស្អាតប្រើប្រាស់ ដូចជាត្រូវពឹងលើទឹកទន្លេ ឬទឹករណ្តៅ។

 

សម្ភារៈជំនួយប្រហែលជាមិនគ្រប់គ្រាន់សម្រាប់បំពេញតម្រូវការគ្រប់គ្នាទេ។ ទោះជាយ៉ាងណាក្តី ការខ្វះចន្លោះនេះ មិនទាក់ទងនឹងការរើសអើងសាសនា ឬនយោបាយសោះឡើយ។

 

………ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋភូមិកាឡៃតាវង លោក ប្រានាង កាន់ថៃ កត់សំគាល់ថា ប្រធានភូមិកាឡៃតាវង លោក ខង សេវ ខណៈចុះស្រង់ឈ្មោះប្រជាពលរដ្ឋក្រីក្រដើម្បីដាក់ក្នុងបញ្ជីឈ្មោះទទួលអំណោយ លោកបានព្រមានអ្នកភូមិថា នឹងមិនផ្ដល់អំណោយឲ្យប្រជាពលរដ្ឋជាសមាជិកគណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិ នោះទេ។…….. លោក មេភូមិ កាឡៃតាវង បានបញ្ជាក់ច្បាស់ថា គាត់មិនបានព្រមានដូច្នេះទេ។

 

Below is a clarification by Plan International Cambodia to Radio Free Asia (RFA):

Plan International Cambodia thanks the Radio Free Asia for covering the organization’s recent disaster response activity (please read the details at http://www.rfa.org/khmer/news/politics/rkiri-authorities-accused-of-discrimination-07022016071202.html). In addition to phone communication and email to the radio’s reporter Mr. Ratha Visal, Plan International Cambodia would like to make some clarification as below:

RFA report (translated into English)

Clarification

“…the villager supporting the CNRP in Kalay Tavong village had not received humanitarian assistance dispatched by the district authority although some of the villagers are in poverty.” Plan International Cambodia agreed with the local authority about the criteria in dispatching the assistance items as following:

·  Families in poor 1 and 2 categories

·  They have difficult access to water, such as depending on unclean river water or hand-made underground water sources

 

Our response may not cover all the needs. However, the gap happens to both ruling, position and other parties (the local authorities have the figures) as political and religious affiliation is NOT the foundation of our work.

 

“People in Kalay Tavong village Praneang Kann Thai noticed that Kalay Tavong village leader Khong Sev warned his villagers while he was registering the name of those to receive the assistance that those who support the CNRP would not be given the assistance.” The Village Leader reassured Plan International Cambodia that he did not make any warning as such.

 

 

 

Child and Youth Led Show to Promote Schooling and Non-Violence Households

by Mom Chantara Soleil

A group of 18 children and youth recently surprised their community with educational concert and performance to discourage domestic violence and school dropouts and to raise fund to support the most vulnerable.

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Approximately 300 dwellers in Run Ta Ek commune, Banteay Srey district of Siem Reap province crowded for the youth and child led educational concert and performance called BellSound, at local pagoda, Wat Run, where they subconsciously shared laughter and tears.

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“I am so amazed by the performance of the kids in our community. I am proud. I did not expect they are so talented. Participants including myself were laughed and cried by the show,” said Mrs. Nith Kim Leang, Run Ta Ek commune councilor in charge of women and children’s affairs.

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Lasting from 8:00 to 10:00 PM, the show incorporated traditional dances, lip-syncing, signing and drama along with key messages to promote schooling and discourage dropouts and domestic violence.

Ms. Pork Phoun, 19, is a leader of the child and youth group shared that, “We are so happy with the support from the local authorities and people here. And we are highly motivated by the large crowd at our show.”

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The young talents who lead the educational concert and performance emerged from the child club structure facilitated by Plan International Cambodia and partner Legal Aid of Cambodia through the funding support of the European Union.

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“We trained them with very basic skills. But they bought DVD’s and work among themselves to sharpen the skills. They initiated the whole performance by themselves,” said Mr. Huot Sahorn, official in charge of the community.

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At the end of the performance, Ms. Pok Phon announced the mobilized fund of over 120,000 riels [approximately US$30] from the donation of the participants and that the amount will be used to support very poor students to continue their education.

Community Volunteers of the Year

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.

Solean

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.

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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.