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