CWDA has been collaborating with Skateistan Cambodia since 2012. Skateistan’s mission is to use skateboarding as a tool for empowerment, to create new opportunities and the potential for change for vulnerable youth. As it’s second project after its monumental success in Afghanistan, Skateistan is now impacting the lives of many youths, including our girls, here in Cambodia.
Every Thursday without fail the girls attend a two hour session at the skateboarding park in Phnom Penh. Getting in the tuktuk on the dot of 1.30pm in order to arrive in plenty of time, they jitter with excitement. Arriving at the park, it is easy to understand why.
The sense of community and empowerment felt when walking into the skateboarding park is overwhelming. Skateboarding has become an outlet for creative expression for the girls; they have so much fun showing off their skills on the different ramps and learning new tricks – and they are very good! The girls are well and affectionately known here by the instructors and other students, having been some of the first students of Skateistan Cambodia.
Watching them, it is clear how much they cherish the opportunity each week. Not only does having such an unique hobby increase self-confidence, it develops trust, friendship and valuable life skills such as leadership and teamwork.
Soryah*, one of the older girls, says that skateboarding gives her the opportunity to “escape” and to relieve her stress through exercise. Meymey* loves going each week to meet up with her friends and always has so much fun.
Sokcchoeun, the safe shelter house mother, told me how proud she is of the girls, and that whenever there are competitions people remark on how they skateboard just as well as the boys!
Donations continue make this weekly opportunity possible for the girls, covering the costs of transportation each week and to skateboarding events, as well as appropriate clothing for their hobby.
Everyone at CWDA want to sincerely thank you for your continuing support.
*Not their real names
Title: The girls go swimming and one visits Angkor Wat
*Name has been changed. --
After more than two months of holidays, it's now time for the girls of Safe Shelter to go back to school!
According to Srey Mom*, they had a fantastic holiday: “We cooked, stayed at home to relax, and enjoyed our extra English lessons. We’ve been to the riverside many times, we had a party where we danced, we went to the amusement park and to the swimming pool every week! We played a lot of games and did some arts and crafts! That was amazing!”
Chanda* and Meymey* are facing a big change this year: they just entered university! Chanda* is studying accountancy and she really loves what she is studying, in the future, she would like to work in a bank. She really enjoys her new student life, “I have a lot of friends at university, I am the youngest of the class so they are all older than me, and I really like it!”
Meymey* is studying business and management, and is really happy at university and has many friends. She is a very busy young woman, who is now a volunteer skateboard teacher at Skateistan, 3 hours per day and five days a week, and she also teaches yoga to CWDA staff twice a week!
The younger ones are still in primary and high school. Piny*, the youngest one is in grade 3 and would like to work “in a big company with computers”, Kanha* is in grade 4 and dreams of being a cook in a restaurant or hotel. Panha*, in grade 5 says that she is too young to have plans for her future job! Sokunthea*, grade 7, is already incredibly good in English and wants to become a tour guide and translator. Sreaneath*, grade 10, wants to follow her friend Chanda* and study accountancy.
The school year starts with a lot of dreams and projects for these brave and intelligent girls!
With your support, you are helping turn these girl's dreams into a reality.
The girls at the Safe Shelter have had a busy few months, but now school has broken up for the semester: it is the longest extended break of the year. The girls will be off school for two whole months. The two eldest girls Chayya and Sopheak are waiting for their high school diploma results. They have been predicted to pass with good grades and are expected to start University in October. In the meantime they are attending a vocational educational course run by CWDA. They are working on their English and computer skills and also learning how to compose a CV.
The staff at Cambodian Women’s Development Agency are working hard to ensure all of the girls have activities arranged to keep them happily occupied over their academic break. We are lucky to have a volunteer, Jenny, from England who is working with CWDA for a couple of months whilst on her university summer break. Each day she teaches the girls English, she makes the lessons very interactive; the girls are learning English songs and games as well as having art and craft sessions.
Jenny says “I really enjoying spending time with the girls, watching their confidence grow as they learn to speak English. They are all really keen to demonstrate what they have learnt, but most of all I enjoy seeing how they all help and encourage one another”.
It’s not been all work and study during the holidays, thanks to your donations the girls have been able to pick out some new clothes; they are all growing very fast and are very appreciative of being able to choose some new outfits. They have also been on a picnic to the riverside and are still enjoying their weekly yoga sessions. Pohiek has become so accomplished at yoga that she is running daily yoga sessions during her school holidays for all the CWDA staff which is helping to keep us all fit and flexible!
Sokchhouen runs the day-to-day operations of the safe-shelter and is affectionately known by the girls as ‘house mother’. She lives on site to ensure all the girls in the safe shelter have consistent full time care and support. As well as her main role as house mother, she is also a trained weaving instructor and teaches the girls weaving in their free time. Under her tutelage some of the girls have weaved scarves that are then sold for a small price in the local market.
Sokchhouen joined CWDA in 1995, and has over 20 years experience working with vulnerable young girls to increase their confidence, self-sufficiency and life-skills. She also prepares the daily meals with the girls at the shelter so that they can develop their cooking skills.
When asked what she enjoys most about her role Sokchhouen said “the organization is like a family to me, all the staff care for, and support each other, and I like to share my knowledge and experience with the girls and give them advice and make them feel calm, happy and comfortable; I think of them as daughters”
Phalla (not her real name), one of the girls at the shelter says that “Sokchhouen looks after us well, she has a lot of responsibility but she is happy and never complains about her job, even when she is up at night looking after us when we are sick”.
Thank you so much for donating to the Cambodian Women’s Development Agency. Your donation enables us to employ Sokchhouen to live at the Safe Shelter 24/7, this ensures the girls grow up in a caring, stable and loving environment.
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Khan Makara 7,