Dispatch From Cambodia: Women’s Workshop

This is a blog post from Caroline Riss, MLSA Staff Attorney, who is in Cambodia on exchange to assist with a legal organization.Women's Workshop 1I had the opportunity to travel this past weekend to another Cambodian Province on the Gulf of Thailand called Sihanoukville.  The province is only about 115 miles from the capital – but it took us about 7 hrs by bus! The scenery along the way made up for the long ride, I was able to see some beautiful country side and some interesting cultural sites.Upon arriving in Sihanoukville- I was greeted by the lovely women from an organization called Room to Read. Room to Read is an international NGO that focuses on literacy and girls education. They provide ‘material support – such as school fees, clean uniforms or transportation, in addition to mentoring and life skills training to help girls succeed in the classroom and beyond.”Room to Read in Cambodia was hosting a workshop over the weekend to assist women from rural villages become ‘social mobilizers.’ As social mobilizers, the women work in their communities to keep young girls in school. They also work to assist young girls with issues around domestic violence and sexual assault. As a domestic violence attorney in Montana, it was very interesting for me to see the preventative methods being used in Cambodia to assist young girls and women who are at risk of sexual assault and domestic violence.Women's Workshop 2The social mobilizers were being trained on how to approach young girls they suspect are having trouble in school or at home, how to ask proper and useful questions, how body language plays a role in their questioning and what tools they have to help these girls. The social mobilizers are all volunteers and it was amazing to see their dedication, concern for their younger generation and motivation to make change.I was able to observe the training and also participate in some team building exercises led by my colleague Elizabeth from the YWCA in Missoula. The women loved the team building games and hopefully they will be able to incorporate them into their girl programs.After the workshop, Room to Read hosted a nice farewell dinner on the beach for their volunteer social mobilizers. The women showed Elizabeth and I how to perform traditional Cambodian dancing! The women also had a ‘fashion show’ where they used all the recycled paper from their workshop as props for the fashion show! Very fun.Women's Workshop 4Lots of workshops, trainings and events to come this week! Stay tuned.