Female Sexual Health Promotion in Phnom Penh

by GlobeMed at Rutgers University-New Brunswick
warm welcome and introduction from the CSSD staff
warm welcome and introduction from the CSSD staff

The following is a postcard from Charissa Murphy, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in Southeast Asia, about her recent visit to Cooperation for Social Services and Development (CSSD) in Cambodia, supported by GlobeMed at Rutgers.

Entering the Cooperation for Social Services and Development (CSSD) office was one of the warmest welcomes I have experienced as the In-the-Field Representative in Southeast Asia for GlobalGiving. The entire staff of about 23 people all smiled kindly, greeted me with interest, and joined a large conference table that is part of their open-environment office. Many of the volunteers and staff members were once CSSD target beneficiaries themselves (entertainment workers (EWs), men who sleep with men (MSM), drug abusers, etc.). CSSD recruits its target beneficiaries to become program managers, staff team, peer educators, and outreach and community volunteers. This is a defining aspect of the organization that I find incredibly powerful. Learning about sexual reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDs, and overall personal physical and mental well-being and options from someone who is a peer, vulnerable and at-risk too for exploitation or health risks, can be more genuine and understood.

With a focus on prevention, CSSD provides outreach, referrals for support, and awareness building. It also holds events quarterly in high-risk communities with community stakeholders to continue sharing valuable livelihood knowledge and trainings.

Along with some of the CSSD team, I visited homes and areas where CSSD conducted HIV testing at least every six months. Timid, but interested, women at the first location we visited to provide the HIV finger prick testing all work in the entertainment business of Cambodia. Not only labeled as "Entertainment Workers" (EWs), they also face the reality of feeling devalued and beneath others in a society that often turns its head at the mental and physical degradation that forever leaves its mark on these women (and men). Sometimes that mark is HIV AIDs, which is why CSSD devotes effort to increase awareness on safe sex, personal respect, and medical testing for HIV at least every six months. Too afraid of the prick, one of the field team staff stepped up for a live demonstration, going through the test herself to try and reduce the anxiety. Jokingly, she let out a big "Ow," followed by smiles and laughter from everyone present. 

Afterwards, while most were still reluctant to go, one of the other women stepped up for the test. The others immediately felt more comfortable in doing so too. This confirmed that peers setting positive examples is powerful. Though the staff faces many challenges when going into the field, including pushback from the owners of the entertainment venues, they persevere and remain dedicated to helping others to protect themselves.

Partnering with GlobeMed at Rutgers since 2012 has allowed CSSD to expand its programs and community reach. The support initially began with the awareness trainings in 2012 for 750 entertainment workers on hygiene and reproductive health. The GROW team visits CSSD each summer to support the staff and develop improvement opportunities technically and/or for the organization’s operations.

CSSD truly is focused on community impact, modeling a strong commitment to incorporating various stakeholders within the community, including government and local authorities and beneficiaries and community members. It understands the connection it builds with the community by showing them that its team also faces or once faced similar limitations and now works to overcome them.

I want to thank CSSD and GlobeMed at Rutgers for allowing me to visit, and a special thanks to CSSD for emphasizing the impact of community involvement and trusting relationships.

Upcoming Event on GlobalGiving - TODAY, this Wednesday, July 16th, is a Bonus matching day!:

Today, July 16th (Wednesday), beginning at 9AM EDT, GlobalGiving will match 30% of any donations (of up to $1,000 from any individual donor) to GlobeMed at Rutgers. There are $130,000 in total funds available for matching today for all of GlobalGiving’s partners. To ensure your donation is matched before the funds run out, please consider donating early today shortly after 9AM.

staff team explaining the HIV testing to EWs
staff team explaining the HIV testing to EWs
first up! she helped her peers feel comfortable
first up! she helped her peers feel comfortable
laughing afterwards b/c it wasn
laughing afterwards b/c it wasn't that scary!
ages of some of the EW women being tested
ages of some of the EW women being tested
getting ready for the next group of tests
getting ready for the next group of tests

As our Global Giving project for this semester comes to a close, we would like to take a moment to thank you for all of your support. Your support and contributions have been imperative to our partner organization project in female sexual health promotion in Phnom Penh. The following are a few updates regarding the progress of our GlobeMed chapter at Rutgers, as well as the objectives of our GROW team that will travel to Phnom Penh next month.

Our chapter has had an exhilarating and successful past couple of months. Besides the Global Giving project, we have made our presence on-campus noteworthy by means of the Meal Swipes for Charity Initiative! This allowed for students to donate their guest meal swipes in support of our sexual health promotion project for CSSD. It was a fantastic opportunity to network with other students and explain the fundamentals of our organization. Additionally, we just completed our innovative annual 5K Run: Strip for Solidarity, which gave participants the opportunity to “take off” their clothes as they ran and donate them to charity. Global Health Week was also a great success! We screened a documentary “Born Into Brothels” and held a Global Health Opportunity Panel to have students engage in progressive discussion about global health. During our weekly meetings, GlobeMed staff members have taken a keen interest in global health discussions about partnership, equity, and social justice. These conversations are critical in evaluating and more importantly, valuing our partnership with CSSD. They also keep the momentum going and excitement levels high for the upcoming year!

Finally, our GROW team will be heading to Phnom Penh in a few weeks. This means that all their weeks of conversation and planning with CSSD will finally come to fruition. This year’s GROW team has been preparing tutorials and health tool kits to that CSSD will distribute. These tool kits will cover a whole range of health topics from hygiene to contraceptives. GROW has also been hard at work learning grant writing and constructing an ESL curriculum to share with CSSD. We can’t wait to see the stories they come back with!

During the upcoming summer, our new executive board will reenergize and brainstorm new ideas that will enrich the chapter and continue to set us apart from other student organizations on campus. The global health equity movement involves everyone and we would not be to accomplish what we have without you!

Thank you again to all of our supporters, and we wish you all the best that summer can bring!

In solidarity,

Nirali Dave & Madison Little

Director of Communications & Director of Finances

Happy New Year! This is a time to recharge and reflect upon what we hold most dear. To celebrate the start of GlobeMed at Rutgers’ Global Giving campaign for this year, we would like to thank each of you for your donations to this project. Once we reach our funding goal, we will have raised enough for our partner, Cooperation for Social Services and Development (in Phnom Penh, Cambodia) to continue their efforts in providing health education for the Entertainment Worker (EW) community. Each time you donate, you are contributing to the success of CSSD in helping the marginalized communities of Phnom Penh. We are still trying to reach our goal and appreciate all of your help!

For the upcoming semester, GlobeMed at Rutgers will continue to fundraise and build upon innovative chapter ideas for our meetings, events and campus presence. Our project’s foundation is still focused on promoting sexual health, but we have worked with our partner to make the project more effective and comprehensive. In addition to monetary incentives, GlobeMed at Rutgers is developing a sexual health education seminar for CSSD to provide to its clients, which will include information about contraception, general hygiene, and good sexual health practices.  Our GROW team will be traveling to CSSD this summer to help put this program in place and will also be working on issues of sustainability and capacity building. We cannot wait to hear the results of this project and how our partner utilizes the new additions. 

Once again, we thank you for your donations, and encourage you to take a look at our project plan: https://www.globalgiving.org/pfil/15300/projdoc.pdf and chapter website: http://globemed.org/impact/rutgers/. Please consider sharing with your friends and family so that we can continue to help these marginalized communities lead healthier, higher quality lives.


In solidarity,
Nirali Dave & Madison Little
Directors of Communications & Finances
GlobeMed at Rutgers University


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Organization Information

GlobeMed at Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Location: Long Valley, NJ - USA
Website: http:/​/​globemedru.blogspot.com/​
Project Leader:
Madison Little
Princeton, NJ United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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