Wordless Wednesday #59: Modern-day neary Khmer (Khmer woman)

modern day Cambodian hero

A female Khmer de-miner with her partner, an Alsatian sniffer-dog. She’s one of the many female members of the Cambodian de-mining team that participated in last Sunday’s 55th anniversary celebration of Cambodia’s Independence from France. To me, she represents the modern-day Khmer woman. Brave, independent, hard-working and yet remaining true and respectful to the ideals of being a Cambodian.

Cheyor, neary Khmer!
Cheyor, Kampuchea!

Blogging from Kathmandu, Nepal

Namaste!
It’s very, very cold here in Kathmandu with temperature of about 9C. The moment I stepped out of the plane, the cool breeze sent shivers to my spine. While going through the immigration formalities to finding the hotel service vehicle, I had goosebumps all over and I feel my insides shuddering.

Sad to say, R, I didn’t get a window seat. I was in the middle row. I was told that when going to Kathmandu, one should take seats on the right side of the plane because that’s where Mount Everest can be seen. Drat. Everyone had exactly the same thing in their minds.

Just about 30mins from landing, and as if on cue, the plane tilted to the right because passengers on the left side of the plane vacated their seats and spilled on the aisle towards the right of the plane. That’s when I realized that Mount Everest is in plain sight. I already missed a window seat so I told myself not to be outdone and go take a peep of the peak. I had to kick and fight and bite and scratch my way through this crowd just to see this hallowed mountain peak.

Oh well… this is Mount Everest — err, the snow-capped Himalayan range from where I was standing:

himalayan mountain range

And some random shots I took while on my way to Hotel Yak and Yeti.

kathmandu

downtown kathmandu

Inauguration of IAWRT (International Association of Women in Radio and Television)Conference: Women and Building Peace: Experiences and Challenges

iawrt opening

supathra and madeline
Madeline (Cameroon) and Supathra (Thailand)

with mum beth2
Me with Mum Beth

Will update more tomorrow.
R, there is no internet at the hotel, and I haven’t received any messages from you. The business centre’s closing now and so I will try to get up earlier and send you email.

In Siem Reap again

Yes, I am, and will be here until Sunday. I am currently participating in the Gender Evaluation Methodology workshop, GEM for short. This methodology will help us researchers in determining whether ICTs, that’s Information and Communication Technologies, are improving women’s lives and gender relations as well as promoting positive change at the individual, institutional, community and broader social levels.

ICT use is increasing everywhere. ICTs, however, can also pose a potential threat to women. ICTs can be used in ways that replicate or perpetuate gender stereotypes and biases, and can have unintended negative impacts. The GEM Tool provides an evaluation methodology for organisations like IDRC wanting to learn about how their projects, specifically the iREACH Project, change gender roles and relations in communities and how these changes impact on women’s lives.
– GEM Guide


For us staff of the iREACH project, our capacities will be developed in gender-sensitive project monitoring and evaluation. The training will equip us with basic gender and development concepts to enable us to determine gender indicators for project outputs and outcomes and ultimately developing a gender policy for iREACH project that can include criteria for women and men’s participation in project implementation and management.

I know, these stuffs sound foreign to most, my apologies 😀

gem workshopAnyhow.
I think it would be interesting how this workshop goes because, apart from myself, all the field staff are men! There were female applicants short-listed during the recruitment period and all of them preferred to work in Phnom Penh and declined the job offer. Although I have no problems with the all-male field staff (they are all wonderful to work with and are all promising and bursting with enthusiasm to work in the rural area), I still wish there are other female staff. I am curious… will I see changes in how the male staff see women after this workshop? Will this mean we will be more aware of gender issues in the community? That we will see.

Earlier today, we reviewed all current information and data related to gender that have been so far collected from our baseline survey and PRA. Right now, the facilitators are bombarding us with gender concepts, GEM principles, quantitative and qualitative indicators, gender analysis, among others, and I think our brains are frantically pushing its many compartments to make space for these new knowledge.

On the other side of the room, Sothea, the researcher from Kamchai Mear pilot area is staunchly lobbying for the inclusion of a half-day field trip to Angkor Wat, where he says, jokingly, there are gender-related issues that could be identified there and cited the apsaras (referring to the heavenly dancers carved in the temple walls) to support his case. He pouted like a five year old child when he was rebuffed. However, he was appeased when our all-female trainers (from the Philippines and Malaysia) told him that they will look into the workshop schedule and see if it can be accommodated.

Ok, back to workshop now before they catch me sneaking this post :D.

No, the rumor isn’t true…

…I’m still here.
I have been out of circulation for a long while. No, I wasn’t kidnapped. No, I didn’t fall in a man-hole either. Truth is, I am just recovering from the HUGE hassle of dealing with the requirements in applying for funding from a major donor. For weeks on end, we’d patiently produced documents and answered their questions as promptly as we could, only to be refused support in the end. We would not have raised our hopes high had they not given us assurance of 100% support to 5 projects. What’s more, we had to put up with all their demands and in the end…*sigh*. We did know from staff of other local NGOs that this major donor is difficult to deal with, however, we were banking on the fact that between us was more than 4 years of solid partnership and we believed they wouldn’t put us in a tight situation.

One of the most affected projects is the Gender and Environment Project. This project was abruptly shut down immediately after we learned the news from the donor. The project was supposed to be phased out this year, but even if the “graduation plan” was already there, it had not been put in its proper place yet. 2006 activities would have put everything in order, according to the “graduation plan” that the women’s groups had set out. Starting in March, ALL activities came to a screeching halt. No meeting to hand over the responsibilities to the women leaders. Just a hush-hush explanation and turn-over to the women leaders and the project staff packed their bags and went away.

Image hosting by PhotobucketIt is so sad that it had to happen in the month we celebrate Women’s Day. I might not be able to update (again) as much as I like to as I have to do more research on funding and meeting prospective donors.

Women’s Day

In celebrating the Women’s Day, I am sharing this article that I contributed to the 2002 Annual Report of Mlup Baitong.

Forty-seven year old Mey Phorn lives in Phum Thmei village, Chambok commune, Kampong Speu province, and is among the many illiterate and unskilled women in Cambodia. Although she wanted education, she was unable to go to school because of extreme poverty and the civil war that was raging in the country at that time. Like a typical housewife in rural Cambodia, she takes on other responsibilities aside from her household chores. She helps her husband on the farm, and collects firewood for fuel, bamboo shoots and other non-timber forest products to make ends meet. Apart from raising animals, she does not know of any livelihood activities. Raising livestock is something seen as a risk because without proper skills, animals often die. When she heard that Mlup Baitong was starting Women’s Project in her village, she seized the opportunity and patiently attended meetings.

Mey Phorn said that Mlup Baitong’s training showed her new techniques for chicken raising and vegetable growing. At the beginning, the women suffered setbacks in poultry raising as chickens were susceptible to diseases. One woman counterpart was trained to administer vaccinations to poultry and livestock. More awareness among the women about prevention of chicken diseases has minimized the spread of disease.

“Before, we spent almost a day in the forest gathering bamboo shoots, wild mushrooms and firewood, and then we did the work in the house”, Mey Phorn adds. “But now we have more time for our family while tending chickens and papaya trees.”

When we spoke with Mey Phorn that afternoon, she had just come back from selling papaya and other fruits from the Ecotourism site in Chambok, and she was beaming. She had earned about 40,000riels ($10) in two days. Her small vegetable garden is thriving and chickens run around her yard. Now she spends less time in the forest. Instead, she says, she spends more time with other women in the village talking about handicraft production, or discussing the advantages of joining the savings group.

“I think cooperation is good. We need cooperation in the village if we want to improve our lives, ” Mey Phorn beams.