Youth of the week: Sem Panhavuth

Youth of the week: Sem Panhavuth

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Sem Panhavuth, 29-years-old, started as a volunteer for global NGO Handicap International. Now, he is a full-time employee, managing an information system of road crashes and victims. After demonstrating an outstanding work ethic during his time volunteering, he was promoted to an employee in only three months.

System control and management of statistics was new for Sem Panhavuth when he began the job, as he had just graduated from the Royal University of Phnom Penh with a degree in information technology. He excelled at Handicap International quickly, despite his lack of experience, by learning from his environment and diligent self-study.

“I needed time to get used to work, since I was supposed to follow their structure. I wasn’t that comfortable with things at first, really,” he said.

He added that his director’s kindness and encouragement put him at ease with the job. “I wasn’t shy to ask others when I had a concern or question,” he said. “Also, listening to people really helps you to improve.”

After enough hard work and training, Sem Panhavuth created a system for organising traffic accident data. It is now used locally and internationally by Handicap International.

“Our traffic accident data has updated and changed format every year. The reports are much more professional now. We can compare data between countries, and evaluate the risk of traffic accidents,” he said.

“This achievement required a lot of research. We expect our data process to be a model for other countries to follow.”

According to Sem Panhavuth’s data collection system, 80% of traffic-related fatalities were caused by head injury last year. Handicap International is an advocate of wearing helmets while driving to reduce this extreme number.

Some of their campaigns bring Handicap International to schools and universities, both in Phnom Penh and in the provinces. Handicap International has launched especially strong campaigns through local media. Sem Panhavuth was once a guest speaker for a broadcasted seminar.

“Once, I was invited to be a speaker for raising awareness for traffic issues. In high schools, we train some students peer-to-peer. In the villages, we also encourage traffic safety,” he said.

Sem Panhavuth plans to build on his current career and eventually become an expert in his field. He thinks that traffic experts are needed in Cambodia, because traffic safety is still relatively new.

He values the knowledge he gains every-day from working at Handicap International.

“I have the opportunity to join in on training seminars, locally and internationally. Training allows me to improve on my strategies and it requires critical thinking,” he said.

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