It was Thursday May 7th 2015 and almost exactly 10 years since the very first Chab Dai member meeting took place in June 2005.
Chab Dai staff were assembling, dressed in their finest traditional sampot, and attendees from many of our 53 member organisations were arriving at the ICF conference rooms in Phnom Penh.
Here at Chab Dai, we wanted our first Bi-Annual Member Meeting of 2015 to be as joyful an occasion as possible, so there was a photo booth on hand, ready with sequins and all manner of fun props to pose with.
The day’s sessions began with a warm welcome from founder and International Director, Helen, who also presented a 10-year timeline of Chab Dai’s history, staff and national/international events over the last decade (available to view here).
Next, Sue Taylor from Hagar shared her take on collaboration - everything from building professionalism together to thinking about long-term, trauma-informed care - while Christa Sharpe of IJM counselled on the importance of stopping to celebrate our achievements, despite the ongoing struggles we may face in the anti-trafficking field.
Members were invited to add their thoughts to our hand-themed comments board, while those who made it upstairs promptly for the coffee break got first pick of the fantastic spread of Bloom cupcakes, complete with a Chab Dai twist. Of course, networking is what Chab Dai is all about so we couldn’t pass the opportunity for a session of speed-networking before lunch as well.
The afternoon began with a strong performance from theatrical group EPIC Arts, delivering a powerful message for society to see ability, not disability.
The theme for this part of the day was looking to the future. Vutha Hing from Cambodia Development Resource Institute gave an update on the forthcoming ASEAN Economic Community, while Helen took the floor once more to talk about what economic integration will mean for the Greater Mekong Sub-Region – and the trafficking issue. Many of our partners and members also gave updates on a diverse range of subjects, from LGBT-Christian dialogues to new research on youth access to pornography.
Reconvening for Day 2 of the Member Meeting, participants were given a choice of workshops. I spent an informative few sessions learning about the great migration-prevention training schemes run by Samaritan’s Purse, insightful research on attitudes towards trafficking from within the church community by Sophorn Phong, Hannah Sworn and Love 146’s Glenn Miles, and a look at the nuanced level of care delivered to special needs survivors by ARM.
The two-day event managed to cover a good deal of lessons learned from the past, with equal weight placed on what we’re looking forward to and need to be ready for in the future – and a healthy dose of celebration. So a big thank you to everyone who attended and here’s to the next ten years!