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.
Have you seen our new micro-project? We’re really excited that we can now raise money to send two of our girls who are in their last year of secondary school to university. This is a really important step in helping young women gain their independence, achieve their full potential and a chance of financial security in the future. The two girls want to study accountancy and management at a Phnom Penh university – something which would have been unimaginable for them had they not been able to access CWDA’s Safe Shelter. We’re so grateful to our supporters and pleased to say we’re over $2000 closer to our target of sending these two young women to further education– incredible!
If you’re considering a further donation to CWDA we’d like to encourage you to make use of the bonus matching days which Global Giving have set up – the first is today for the Global Giving US site: make donations today Weds 12th Feb from 9am and an anonymous donor will match 30% until the $75,000 runs out (so get in there early). If you’re a UK-based supporter, then there’s a whole week beginning March 3rd where 50% of your donation will be matched.
CWDA want to thank again our donors for their generous support - we've raised a total of over $10,000 since our campaign on Global Giving began.
Chantha (not her real name), aged 10, has been living at CWDA’s Safe Shelter since 2012. Her father had died and shortly after her mother abandoned her, leaving her elderly grandmother to care for her. Chantha’s aunt, unable to take Chantha in herself and worried that she was at high risk of being trafficked due to her vulnerable situation and poverty, came to CWDA for help.
Thanks to the generous support from our donors, a year later Chantha is a happy and confident young girl. She is studious, speaks English and aspires to be a teacher when she is older.
Typically Chantha wakes up at 5:30am and begins her chores of cleaning the sleeping area and making the beds with the other girls. She then showers and gets dressed for the day before going downstairs to the communal living space and eating a breakfast of eggs and rice, cooked by the older girls and supervised by the house ‘mother’. After breakfast, she washes up the bowls and cutlery and then gets started on her homework.
At 10.30am, Chantha has an English lesson for an hour, provided by CWDA’s native-speaking volunteers. She then has lunch consisting of soup, pork and rice, before helping to clean up and getting ready for school.
During the afternoon, Chantha attends a local Khmer school until 5pm. After a dinner of curry and rice, she watches TV, plays with the other girls and reads before finally going to bed at 8pm.
When asked what living in the Safe Shelter meant to her, Chantha replied: ‘I like living at CWDA because it makes me happy to go to school, learn English and be looked after by house mother’.
Chantha, and the other girls at CWDA’s Safe Shelter would like to thank you for your generous support, which enables them to continue living in a safe and caring environment.
Just over a year ago, CWDA forged a partnership with Skateistan, an NGO that uses skateboarding as a tool to empower youth in Cambodia. Since then, every Thursday the girls have been going to Skateistan for half a day to learn new skills and also participate in arts and crafts.
Learning a new and exciting skill such as skateboarding not only increases confidence, but also encourages trust, friendship, leadership, community and social capital.
On International Children’s Day (1st June), the CWDA girls participated in a skateboarding competition organized by Skateistan, held at the Jasmine Valley Resort in Kep. The trip was an ideal opportunity to enhance the girls’ understanding of the environment outside of Phnom Penh and provide them with life experience outside of the city. The competition also encouraged the girls to demonstrate their skateboarding abilities after a year of training with Skateistan.
Despite being in a completely alien environment, the girls were not afraid to show off their skills and take part in the competition, which lasted for 2 ½ hours. There were 17 participants from various different organizations, 8 of whom were from CWDA. All of the girls gave a great performance and the competition was a huge success, whilst CWDA’s very own Srey N. came in 3rd place!
Furthermore, Skateistan have offered 17-year-old Srey N. a voluntary work placement over the forthcoming summer holidays. This is a fantastic opportunity and will provide her with invaluable work experience, responsibility and confidence in teaching skills to others.
Skateboarding means the world to the CWDA girls and they look forward to Thursday’s lessons all week, however without the generous support from our donors, the competition, and skateboarding lessons would not be possible. Donations help pay for transport to and from Skateistan and skateboarding events and also pay for appropriate clothing for sporting activities.
‘Skateistan has helped me become more happy and healthy and makes me strong’ - 17 year old Srey N.
‘Skateboarding gives me new skills and makes me happy’ – 13 year old Malen
To donate money to the girls’ safe shelter at CWDA, please follow this link: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/safe-shelter-cambodia/ to donate in dollars, or http://www.globalgiving.co.uk/projects/safe-shelter-cambodia/ to donate in pounds sterling.
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Khan Makara 7,