Training the next generation of Cambodian social workers

It’s been three years since the first Social Work majors in Cambodia graduated from university, fulfilling a very real need in providing human trafficking and abuse survivors with expert care and support. With this in mind, we thought it was time we checked in with our Jeut Nung Dai social work training team here at Chab Dai.

Prak Chantrea is the Assistant Project Manager for Jeut Nung Dai and a member of that ground-breaking class of 2012 himself, having earned his Social Work degree from Royal Phnom Penh University months before starting work at Chab Dai.

Chab Dai's Jeut Nung Dai team. Prak Chantrea is on the right.

Chab Dai's Jeut Nung Dai team. Prak Chantrea is on the right.

Building capacity in social work

So what does the JND team do day-to-day?

“We provide social workers with training related to direct social work and counselling practice such as basic and advanced counselling training, child development and parenting skills training, conflict resolution training, peaceful family training and more.

“This helps social workers to build their knowledge regarding strength-based and contextual approaches, and to improve their skills in listening, asking, responding and counselling.”

Chantrea told me that many of the social workers he helps to train are in fact survivors of abuse or human trafficking themselves, so having the support of the JND team is really valuable. "This training also helps them to feel confident of doing their tasks with clients in the community. Some trainees have said they felt healed with their experiences because they had opportunity to express their feelings [to us] and reflect on their improvements.”

The trauma-informed caregiver course was very important for me because I can now help my team and family. I also can share it to my community as well as I am able to help myself with trauma experiences.
— Counselor, Chab Dai Member ARM

Stories of hope

Although there are challenges still in the field of social work – “some organizations or managers do not give enough value to social workers, or do not know clearly what the practices are” – there is plenty to be hopeful about in Cambodia’s burgeoning social work sector.

“One organization which we worked with for a year runs a shelter for women survivors of human trafficking and sexual abuse.

“Most of their staff lacked knowledge and skills in their work field and they often did not have a social work degree or a relevant background. The supervisor requested our support in building capacity for her employees. JND provided them with training about case management and basic counselling, as well as a mentoring service for four months to support and encourage them to evaluate what they have learnt. We discussed the counselling process and cooperating between social worker, counsellor and house sister regarding cases.

"After we finished our support, the staff reported that they have improved their capacity and feel confident to deal with families and clients. They were also committed to continuing their learning.”

Chantrea explains that Jeut Nung Dai have also been responsible for organising a social work conference every year since 2013.

“The conference aims to strengthen networking and capacity-building of practitioners in Cambodia by sharing skills and expertise as well as discussing how to address certain challenges and difficulties encountered in their daily practices.”

Reducing vulnerability

Like many of Chab Dai’s projects, Jeut Nung Dai works to stop human trafficking and abuse through both direct and indirect means, as Chantrea affirms:

“We build the capacity of Chab Dai members and other staff, but we also go to the communities and sometimes provide direct counselling and group sessions. The main point is about reducing vulnerability.”

This seems an apt way to sum up not only the work of Jeut Nung Dai, but what Chab Dai is all about - empowering those working in counter human trafficking, and through this, reducing the vulnerability of Cambodian people.

Story by Laura Gavin