Van Sophon once earned a living illegally poaching and logging, but began working with Wildlife Alliance's Community Based Ecotourism project in Chi Phat almost four years ago. He was recently promoted to be a deputy of community. In his own words:
"My name is Van Sophon. I have worked as a deputy accountant for almost four years and recently I have been promoted to be a deputy chief of community. My past life before working with CBET, I was a poacher. I went poaching, cut down the trees, and collected the non-timber forest product to support my family for a living.
After I was told by the village chief about the CBET project, as I was interested to get involved I applied and started working with CBET as a member of the first CBET working group and since then I have been working with CBET, I have stopped hunting and logging. I have learned a lot from the project, such as English, computer, financial management, and general knowledge related to tourism. Moreover, I am provided many trainings and I am also awarded the certificate of achievement from accounting management training and a certificate of appreciation from NGO that funded this project.
I have many great opportunities to attend the meetings and seminars in Phnom Penh. All of these make me very excited and happy.
Today I have a better livelihood and I am able to work with Khmer and international tourists in the tourism field.
I would like to express my profound thank to Wildlife Alliance that is supporting our community with financial, materials, and training.
I wish that we, the community of Chi Phat together with WILDLIFE ALLIANCE and other partners will accomplish the CBET goals."