AFESIP Cambodia 

Acting for Women in Distressing Situations 

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Romchong, this year aged 26 years, came from a poor family where they depended basically on seasonal rice farming with meager income and more terribly her family faced domestic violence very often caused by her drunken father. Then, this forced her to decide to migrate with her friends to Phnom Penh to find a job and then she ended up with working as a garment factory worker for one year and a beer promotion girl for some time. While in Siem Reap working as a beer promotion girl she had faced different forms of abuses both physically and psychologically by drunken customers almost every night.

Romchong was released and referred to AFESIP by Siem Reap provincial department of social affairs. She decided to undertake vocational skill training in hairdressing, while she had been staying in the shelter she received other supporting services such as psychosocial counseling, health care, other life skills, Khmer literacy, basic English and computer... After, Romchong completed her hairdressing skill training successfully and was reintegrated back with an initial support of hairdressing business starting kit.

Through AFESIP’s follow-up visits, it is shown that Romchong loves her current job even though hairdressing is a kind of seasonal work in Cambodian context.She said “hairdressing work is my main income generation. Now, I have more and more clients, but it depends on the season. During rainy season, I find it hard to make money because in my location the people are busy doing farming. But I am so busy during dry season and some Khmer festivals such as wedding season and with months of around Khmer New Year.”However, family’s poverty remains the root affecting her living condition. Most of her income from her hairdressing business is spent back to support her and her family’s daily living cost.Of 3 members including her parents in their early 60s, she is responsible most of daily expenses; that is one of the reasons why she fails to possess any property or savings from her business.

With her vocational skill in hairdressing, it is said she can benefit most from it and she expressed her strong confidence in it in term of the service provision. Before referral into AFESIP’s center, she had studied a few years of primary school in public school due to her family’s poverty and family’s need for domestic work. In Cambodian context, girls/women are still expected to do house chores compared to boys/men. During her stay in the center, she could finish grade 4 in non-formal education where she can read and write in a basic way. This general knowledge just places her like many villagers but fails to make her find another job that requires a higher education such as the bachelor degrees. Additionally, her parents’ education levels are so limited and similar to hers that all these assets just secure them in their community’s context only. Romchong said “I can read and write normally; that is what I have learnt from AFESIP’s center; my parents are the same to me. When in the center I also have learnt English and computer classes but I do not have any opportunity to use it at all when I come back home because in my village and community most people are the same to me; they are farmers so how useful they know English and computer.

Regarding Romchong’s health, she said “it is normal for me; it is just a minor health issue such as headache or fever, not serious at all happening to me.” AFESIP’s follow-up visits have shown that both her physical and psychological health is normal that she can adapt her living normally like other people in her community. Through her long exposure of her living with her family in the community, she has built quite strong relationship with others including family members, her peers and community members.

Let’s congratulate Romchongof her marriage to start a new family in her community

More precisely, it could conclude that her recently arranged marriage held on 2nd March 2015 can contribute to her better living for some reasons. Firstly, any stigmatized aftermath is mitigated because she feels love from her partner. Secondly, there is more stable economic status in term of more economic contribution from her husband, a high school teacher. Thirdly, it is likely that Romchong stays longer in her community rather than any unsafe migration; which can end up with any high risk of human trafficking.

To sum up, the aforementioned reflects Romchong’s life rather positively in term of some arising positive impacts including her increased status of business running, increased confidence following her stay with AFESIP, family support and positive relations within the community,sound arranged marriage tie and time of staying in the community like other normal villagers.

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