Sa-KokheangSA Sokheang is from Pursat and studied Accounting at The Vanda Institute, Phnom Penh. She volunteered to work in Kampong Trabek district, Prey Veng Province.

She wanted to volunteer because she believes strongly in the ideology of volunteerism. She also wanted to work in the nonprofit community sector and saw volunteering as a way of developing skills to gain employment in this field.

Sokheang felt she had a lot of give to the community but also she realized she could learn a lot from them. She wanted to help the children learn and study as there aren’t many educational opportunities available to them.

Although she was lonely and homesick at first; life in the commune was made more comfortable due to the relationships she made. The village chief and her local partners were very supportive and helped her with her community mapping. From this she was able to identify what issues in the commune needed to be addressed. These included education  and particularly education around water, sanitation and hygiene, internal migration and domestic violence.

She found that by putting the slower learning children into groups each member helped the other it made them more interested in studying. The youth groups worked hard to encourage the children to work together and help each other.

The youth group also did role plays about domestic violence and safe migration to raise awareness.

Sokheang feels she has achieved a lot: “the children know more about the value of education and when I visit their homes I see that parents are reading with their children. The youth clubs and parents talk about children’s progress in school. The parents say “some children can read now but couldn’t before and now they are motivated to study”

Sokheang has learned a lot from her community and is now very confident with public speaking and wants to work at the community level as a facilitator for a not for profit organisation. She feels her time with Youth Star has prepared her for this as she knows how to network, live within a community, develop plans with people and write proposals as well as having skills in negotiating  with a wide range of people.

“I’m not shy anymore, I’m more assertive and can do a lot of things that I never used to be able to do. I’m confident with speaking in front of many people. I now know how to plan, write proposals and evaluations and mediate between groups”