Cultivating Community Heroes

We’ve been selecting and training Community Heroes from all over Cambodia since 2011, watching as they go on to train other members of their community on how to protect their family from traffickers, raise awareness about abuse and educate on human rights. As part of our anniversary series celebrating Chab Dai’s achievements, we talked to Nop Sen, Project Manager for the Community Heroes team.

Sen won a scholarship to study an ABA in English Literature with Asia HRDC before working in administration and human resources. He came to the Chab Dai via the then-called Doorsteps Project (now Charter-Doorsteps) and now decides budgets, coordinates activities and prepares crucial reports for the Community Heroes Team.

“A few years ago, I worked with a company but I think that they can only find support appropriate for their staff, they don't have time or opportunity to help the Cambodian people. I applied to Chab Dai as a Christian organisation but also I think that Chab Dai has a vision to help the Cambodian people without getting any profit or benefit from it. So I appreciate working here, because when I have experience or knowledge that I can share, I can get it out to the communities, the other people who lack information about this.”

Who are the Community Heroes?

For every province the CH Project works in, 10 heroes are chosen from existing trainer volunteers from the other two prevention projects (Safe Community and Ethnic Community projects) and, as Sen says, “often our heroes are on or know the local authorities so it’s easier for us to collaborate with them.”

“After we have worked with the villagers and heroes/heroines I think that most of the villagers in our target areas have more knowledge about how to deal with brokers, how to report from the helpcard that we [use to] provide the hotline, they know to call when they have a problem with a rape case in the community. We also do refresher training with the heroes, so they have more knowledge to get their point across, and are more confident when teaching the villagers.”

Human trafficking prevention in the nick of time

This kind of community work can be really effective not only in preventing potential human trafficking cases, but in quickly dealing with them when they arise:

“One boy in the North-eastern provinces stuck the helpcard on the wall in his house as our hero explained to his school that they might need it for the future…When one of his sisters was taken to China and forced into marriage, she managed to call her father and tell him to call the number on the helpcard – she remembered seeing it on the wall. Her father called to the Case Support Team; they are now dealing with this case and the broker has been arrested.”

I ask Sen what he hopes to see in Cambodia in the next ten years in regards to this issue.

“According to our work with them, most local authorities have high commitment to help the villagers in their own community - I hope that for the next 10 years, all the NGOs, the government and local authorities are going to build strong relationships and continue to network together to help to abolish all forms of trafficking and abuse. This will be great for Chab Dai’s vision.”

Blog post by Laura Gavin. Photo by Joseph Arnold.