26 April 2015

Why collaboration works

We’ve been asking some of the members who have joined our coalition over the last decade to share their thoughts on collaborating with Chab Dai. This week, Dale Edmonds of Riverkids Foundation describes her journey and how Chab Dai has helped this once-small NGO to grow…

“When we started our small charity, Riverkids Foundation, in Cambodia nearly a decade ago,
we had a handful of staff, big ideas and dreams and a tiny budget for about fifty children. Now we reach over six hundred children directly each month, and we've worked with more than a thousand families at risk of abusing and trafficking their children, including families where children were sold to factories, forced marriages, paedophile rings by foreigners, gang rapes, incest, infant deaths and worse.

The families we work with are among the most difficult and heartbreaking, with complex multi-generational dysfunction and complications of addiction, deep poverty and discrimination. And yet we've managed to bring the rate of trafficking in our families to less than 1%. Next month we will formally graduate over twenty of our families as 'Jasmine Elephant' families with a community celebration - this means that they have become so stable and supportive of their children that they can now leave our programme and flourish on their own.

Chab Dai helped us do that. While Chab Dai doesn't work directly with families, they took a tiny new organisation and made us far stronger by introducing us to other partner organisations with a shared vision to protect children, providing free or very heavily subsidised training for our social workers and staff, giving our managers and team leaders support and encouragement that could only come from a trusted local partner, and even funding very technical and specific programme gaps that were too difficult for most donors to understand the need for.

Chab Dai has created a community that cares for children in Cambodia and supported us so
well - I think we would have closed at several points if it hadn't been for the advice and help
you gave us. Without Chab Dai, there is no way we would be capable of reaching so many

On a personal note, in my own journey to build a Cambodian child protection charity that truly helps the children and families first, some of the key lessons I've learned have been from Chab Dai. From the importance of building a team of staff who respect and value children's rights, to understanding how child safety and privacy matters when fundraising - it's easy to exploit the vulnerable children's stories for funding but we would lose their trust in us. I've also found the value of gauging the real needs of the community through first-hand research and using Chab Dai's wonderful in-house library of resources before rolling out a programme.

And even more personally: when we first met, I hadn't been to church since I was a child. Part
of my disillusionment was from the message that Christian organisations cared more about converting than helping, and children going hungry on the streets outside big brand-new church buildings in Cambodia didn't help. But Helen and two other missionaries I met in Cambodia - women who worked in the field building up communities and showing love and true charity to everyone, not just the people who went to their church - spoke to me more loudly than any sermon could.” 

Dale Edmonds

*Photographs used with the permission of Riverkids.

13 April 2015

10 years of Chab Dai – from Facilitator to National Director

Continuing our series spotlighting individuals who’ve helped the organisation grow in the last 10 years, this week we talk to National Director and long-time staff member, Ros Yeng…

Our story began back in 2005, and Ros Yeng was one of just three members of staff at the time, sharing an office with World Hope International (we now have a workforce of more than 40 at our independent offices in Phnom Penh!). Having worked as a pastor and counsellor prior to Chab Dai, Yeng was initially hired as a Facilitator and back then his role was varied, planting the first seeds of Chab Dai’s prevention programmes out in the provinces of Cambodia…

The growth of human trafficking prevention

“When I started, I knew some friends working in the church who didn't know how to help with the human trafficking issue - I went to visit many pastors in Battambang, and only two of them knew about the issue.

These pastors, they worked on Sunday at the church but Monday to Friday, they had other jobs, working on their own business as a tuktuk driver or a farmer. So they would sometimes take some boys from the field, into the town to meet foreigners in a hotel and the foreigners gave them a lot of money.

They didn't understand – perhaps they expected that the foreigners love the kids, gave them some food or had a gift for the boys, something like that. This is why I started to do prevention in those times.”

The prevention project Yeng first started was called the Church and Community programme, originally aimed at preventing child trafficking by empowering community leaders to educate their communities, to intervene with suspected cases of abuse like the above and to be able to support survivors. Chab Dai now run three more comprehensive human trafficking prevention programs that have grown from this - Safe Community, Ethnic Community and Community Heroes - Yeng sees these as the ‘fruit’ of his early successes. 

Networking at a National Level

So how about his role now?

“Chab Dai is quite changed from the beginning – the first four, five years, I was working on coalition-building, prevention, everything. Then in 2010, Helen [International Director and Founder] handed the leadership of Chab Dai Cambodia over to me.

“Now I work on organisation development, spending time with the Steering Committee, to help support and guide the direction in which Chab Dai is going. It's important that I work with the government as well – with the National Committee to Lead the Suppression of Human Trafficking, Smuggling, Labour Exploitation and Sexual Exploitation of Women and Children.”

Yeng’s work has progressed from local to national level in the last decade, and a large part of his current position involves meeting with and educating the Cambodian government to promote the cause of anti human trafficking.

“We have built up a relationship from 2009 until now, so we have gained the trust from the government  – they know we are focused on stopping human trafficking.”

After a whole decade working at Chab Dai, Yeng believes he is fulfilling God's plan for him:

“We have a passion to help the children, to help and improve the local people. I believe that through Chab Dai, we are showing God's love to bring justice and empowerment to communities.'

If you want to hear more about Yeng's work, he will be speaking at the Justice Conference Asia later this month (April 30 - May 2). Leave us a comment below or tweet us your thoughts @chabdai using the hashtag #10yearsofChabDai.

02 April 2015

The frontline of human trafficking aftercare: training for members

Recently, I was lucky enough to attend a session aimed at frontline and administrative staff working in human trafficking, giving me a good idea of the kind of training that the Chab Dai coalition offers its member NGOs. Led by paediatrician, health consultant and founder of Relentless, Dr Katherine Welch, the one-day "Essential Health Components of an Aftercare Assistance Program" Workshop covered common issues facing professionals working to support those affected by human trafficking and abuse.

Understanding the key issues

The morning session was spent identifying those common issues, discussing best practices such as ‘universal precautions’ to do with hygiene and patient care, confidentiality and recording medical information. As many of the participants I met work in environments such as shelters and re-training centres and are used to meeting with vulnerable, injured and distressed clients, Dr Welch talked through the importance of seeing beyond physical symptoms to the root mental causes they might suggest. There was even advice on advocacy - on how to assert patient rights and challenge medical practitioners if necessary.
“You learned from the health training with Dr Katherine. She took an interest in the topics and shared them well…thank you for having this kind of practical workshop” Chandra Chap, Garden of Hope Foundation - Pleroma Home for Girls 

The tools to fight human trafficking

After lunch, it was time to drill down to more practical tips and tools to take away. The longer term continuity of care - what hospital, counselling and family planning services a client may need access to – was discussed, as well as everyday challenges that are not always obvious, such as client awareness of basic meal-planning and nutrition.

The day ended with a look at some example case studies. Participants split into groups to discuss what their responses would be in the face of certain scenarios, from attempted suicide to re-integration and sexual harassment.

Supporting each other in the field

The response to the training session on the day was really positive and everyone I spoke with seemed to be on the same page when it came to sensitive, case-by-case handling of their work. Participants also had the chance to give feedback and make suggestions for future workshops.

Working in Communications, I don’t have direct experience of what working in anti human trafficking actually means for care workers, nurses, residential managers and other frontline staff. But as the session ended, I felt I had gained a real insight into the day-to-day questions that arise from aftercare, how every precaution must be taken and every consideration to the client’s situation, history and feelings must be made.

It seemed to me that training like this is incredibly valuable to those who do work in this often harrowing field, not only for sharing knowledge and experience, but for supporting each other to carry on.
"Katherine was so knowledgeable in the area which was really helpful, and it was good having medical practitioners from Phnom Penh as well, to give local advice. The training was just what I needed." Ellen Wood, Agape International Missions.

26 March 2015

Thoughts from Chab Dai members

2015 is a special year for us, so we wanted to use this opportunity to ask some of our member organisations how they feel about being a part of the Chab Dai coalition, and how collaboration with NGOs here in Cambodia has helped them in their area of focus.

Some of our members work in legal support, some in psycho-social aftercare, others are human trafficking prevention organisations, working to raise awareness of the issue. All are joined by a common bond of Christian fellowship and share in our vision to connect, generate and share knowledge, advocate for change and bring an end to human trafficking and abuse.

Here are just a few of their thoughts…

Supporting grassroots organisations

One thing that Chab Dai champions is providing small-scale NGOs with the necessary training and capacity to grow. Jesse from foster care organisation, Children in Families (one of our early members), explains their experience of our programs:

 'Children in Families is a local organisation that focuses on placing orphans and vulnerable children in loving local families in Cambodia. We are a small organisation with a developing staff that is taking on a major problem in the country. For several years Chab Dai has been invaluable in providing training and support for the staff of our organisation. We have benefited from trainings focused on developing the internal structure of organisation, social work trainings, and general trainings oriented towards building our staff. There have been many challenges in creating and growing this small non-profit in context of Cambodia, and Chab Dai has helped us to navigate many of these hurdles.’

 The power of collaboration

AusCam Freedom Project is dedicated to empowering those affected by abuse and educating the wider community in order to prevent human trafficking, violence against women and harmful cultural attitudes. Here, Julie Dowse, Founder & Director explains what membership of Chab Dai has meant for AusCam:

“Cambodia is a country with a large number of NGO’s - both local and international - with a mission to fight the trafficking and exploitation of men, women and children. My early experiences in Cambodia showed me that many organisations were operating as lone rangers with limited partnerships and collaborative work. I soon learnt that the primary motives of this were due to the ‘fight for the donor dollar’ which I found very disturbing. I was very relieved when I found out about the coalition formed at Chab Dai to provide a platform for a unified approach to our work and to enable partnerships to develop, forums to discuss the challenges in particular areas of work, training, research, accountability and conferences. I have found all of these opportunities incredibly important in the running of our organisation, including the support needed for our local staff.”

Education Advisor at Heart of Hope, Colleen Briggs also strongly believes in connectivity to succeed in the anti-trafficking movement. Ministering to exploited and at-risk children for 7 years, she told us:

“I sincerely believe that had God not connected us to Chab Dai we would not have been able to serve these children.  We would not have known how to teach the children about the dangers of trafficking nor would we have been able to make the connections to other NGOs that have been so vital to us.  In one case we were connected with a legal aid NGO who helped us work with the police and saw an arrest, conviction, and imprisonment of a perpetrator in the community. The children in the community now have a school and the families have a place to come to when they need a referral or assistance.  Chab Dai has been a valuable guide and partner in most aspects of our program.”

To find out more about becoming a Chab Dai member, follow the link to our main website for more information and to read about our current projects.

21 March 2015

10 years of Chab Dai - Our women leaders

In the week that Cambodia welcomes First Lady Michelle Obama and her ‘Let Girls Learn’ education project, we could do no better than reflecting on our own women leaders within Chab Dai. Here, we talk to Finance & Operations Director Orng Muylen, about her experience at Chab Dai and opportunities for women in Cambodia today.

After an internship at World Vision, Muylen joined Chab Dai in 2007, during her second year studying Accountancy at Phnom Penh International University. She later gained her Masters of Finance from the National University of Management, and quickly progressed from administrator to director within 5 years, now responsible for the Finance department in Chab Dai Coalition Cambodia, monitoring finances for Chab Dai overseas and overseeing operations in the organization.

As the first woman in her family to attend university, Muylen’s story is an encouraging one, though she told me this has meant many challenges along the way:

“In Cambodian culture, as in many parts of the world, men’s opinions are often respected more than women’s, whether they are right or not. If women are strong, it is said that our head is ruled by our heart, like we don't have respect. I feel like it is not appropriate for this attitude in the workplace or in society. We need to respect each other’s opinions, regardless of the person’s gender.”

“But I feel proud that I am the one daughter in my family that has studied at university and I can live in Phnom Penh by myself. Now I am confident about this and that's why I think women can do anything they set their mind to.”

Signs of change in Cambodia

With or without Michelle Obama’s historical visit (the only time an incumbent US First Lady has come to Cambodia), gender is an issue firmly on the agenda in Cambodia right now and even in Muylen’s home province of Kampong Thom, she sees signs of change:

“I think that, like with the Cambodia culture, in my community they thought that if they talk about human trafficking or rape, that is not a good word to say. Especially for the woman, they feel shame or that it's not appropriate to talk about sexual matters.

But right now, it's not like that. Everybody can say and can report, it's better than not saying, better to talk to the police. Right now, we can talk about what is true.”

Muylen also spoke with great enthusiasm about development agency The FIELD Collaborative's recent training program, 'The Seeds of Leadership' which she attended in February 2015.

Over three days of training and dialogue, 'Seeds of Leadership' aimed to increase capacity-building amongst working women in Cambodia through four tier focuses – self-improvement, leading a team, influencing your organisation and training other leaders.

Speaking on the FIELD Collaborative blog, Vice President Karen Petersen found much to inspire in the women who contribute to today's Cambodian workforce:

‘In the bustling, often chaotic capital of Phnom Penh, we are visiting several NGO’s to gain insight into the work they are doing and meet with those who are bringing change to the gender imbalance here. We have met wonderful, courageous women leaders who work in project management, operations, finance, education, legal advocacy, social work and research.'

Looking to the future, Muylen’s thoughts are overwhelmingly positive, not only in working towards ending human trafficking, but for the future of women, equality and Cambodia.

“I have never before experienced the joy and satisfaction that I now have in my work. I am grateful that God has called me here, and I have great confidence in his plan for my life. I think that I have a golden chance to serve God by helping vulnerable women see that they have the same worth as men.”*

*(Taken from Orng. M., 'Washed Clean', Issue: Autumn 2013, Mutuality magazine, Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE))