The following report was written by Ly Vouchnear, an incoming freshman at Gettysburg College and a SHE-CAN scholar, on her experience participating in the One Thousand Lights For Women program. This local three-year training program for women in politics was initiated by Mu Sochua, a Cambodian women's rights leader and SHE-CAN partner:
In Cambodia, there recently have been many women empowerment programs, one of which is One Thousand Lights for Women led by H.E. Mu Sochua, a Cambodian lawmaker. This program has been training and empowering a number of women and young girls throughout Cambodia. On Sunday, 15th May, 2016 a group of women led by H.E. Mu Sochua went to Ksach Kandal district in Kandal province in order to hold a women’s training program. The core topic of the event was about "dream, hope and reality" and its objective was to train and educate women (and men) to have a dream which they can make into a hope and a reality.
There were around 60 participants including women, men, students, youths and the local authorities. Especially, there were three honorable guest speakers, one of which H.E. Mu Sochua. In her speech, first she started with what is a dream and how we, as women, can make our dreams come true. To illustrate this, she raised the example of five female garment workers in Phnom Penh, whom she interviewed the day before. All of them just graduated from high school last year and because of their family poor financial resources they decide to work at garment factory. “What is your dream and hope? Has it become true yet for you?” H.E. Mu Sochua asked the girls. Their answers were almost the same since they are facing the same problems. “I dream that I will have a better life, as many wealthy people do, and I am able to support my family and possess my own house and land,” said one of the girls. Thanks to her dream, she has a hope that she will pass high school exam and be able to further higher education with which she can find a well-paid job and improve her living conditions. In 2015, she passed her exam with flying color.
Later, I was given a chance to share my dream, hope and reality. I shared with the people about my dream to study abroad and to be involved in social works. Now my dream partly comes true because I have got a scholarship to study in the United States for four years and it is also a hope that helps push me to my ultimate potential and achievement.
Last but not least, H.E. Mu Sochua also raised the example of few famous leaders around the world: Ang Shan Shu Kyi and Barack Obama. They have their dream even though the dreams, at that time, seemed very impossible to them. Their dreams have guided and persuaded them to have hope and now their hopes do become the reality. President Barack Obama becomes the first African-American US president and Ang Shan Shu Kyi, who is a Burmese social democratic stateswoman, wins over the dictatorship party in Myanmar.
From my point of view, this is a very good training program. I have learned three important things from the event. First, I observed that many people right now are focusing on women's problems and empowerment. As I saw, there were not only women who joined the training, but men as well. Thus, it means that all of them are in good cooperation. They do concern much about girls, bring gender equality to their community and try to help women and girls to reach their potentials and dreams. Second, they care about girl education. For example, when H.E. Mu Sochua introduced SHE-CAN program to them, they were very interested and asked about the information about how to apply for that. This indicates that the community does value education for girls. They are not bias that only sons can go to school. Also, they do not stick on the stereotype that girls should stay at home to do chore and girls are weak in terms of physical, mental and intellectual ability. Some of them told me that even though they are poor in terms of financial resource but they do not have a poor thinking. They always persuade their children to go to school because only education can change their ways of life and helps reduce poverty in their community. I am very delighted that older people acknowledge the importance of education. Last but not least, I realize that having a dream is very purposeful and helps me to reach the ultimate goal. Without dream and hope, I would not be hard working and straightforward to my own goals. As a result, I would not be able to see my own success in the future. I believe that having a dream and goal intrinsically motivates me to move forward no matter how firm the obstacles are.
All in all, I really love this training program which helps empower, guide and instruct women in community as well as other people to have a dream and hope which in the future will become true and help improve their ways of life. I would suggest people, especially girls, to keep up their dream and hope as well as to take education seriously, which are the tools that help them to search for a meaningful life.
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