This summer we travelled to Cambodia to visit and work together with our partner in Phnom Penh. We shared some wonderful days together, full of nostalgic moments. I spent almost 5 years of my life living in PP, working in this project, sharing my days with a great team of marvellous women. It was amazing to see how Phnom Penh has changed, some times it was even impossible to recognise where we were.
It was also very interesting to see how our partner and the project itself have developed for the last few years. Many women I worked with when I was there, have already left. They move to other cities, some to the rural areas to work on their own rice fields, others to smaller towns, where they sell vegetables in local markets. Some others they even moved to Thailand or Vietnam with their families. Most important, it seems all of them are doing good, living their lives, with up and downs, working hard, but managing to provide for themselves and their families, supporting their children to go to the school and caring for their health.
One thing that I found really touching is that regardless of where they are now, these women are still keeping in touch with each other, the relationships they built working and living together, are still strong and they keep a regular contact with each other, supporting each other in many ways when need it.
That for me is the biggest success of the project I helped to build. Most of these women were devastated when they arrived to work with us. They felt isolated, they could not trust other people because they had been used and abused. But arriving to the workshop, straight away they found people that care for them; they found a family to feel safe with. We always tried to find a good balance between the economical and the social part of such a project. We focused on the technical part of our work, but we also did a lot to empower the women, to give them back their strength and their self-esteem.
Now they are matured women, many of them got married, had children, some got divorced and started a life on their own. But all of them are for sure strong women that went through a lot and found their way in this life.
A very special moment was my farewell dinner shared with many of them. We went to a Khmer restaurant, with a huge buffet with typical food. We ate, we toasted and we laughed together. We promised to see each other soon and to take care of ourselves till the next time we meet each other.
We are proud to work with such an exceptional team and we hope to continue supporting such a special refuge for women in vulnerable situations.