Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khemara builds leaders



Khemara builds leaders

Khemara builds leaders

"Women feel strength in themselves through community development," said

Korm Chamthan, vice director of Khemara, Cambodia's oldest existing NGO. "Men

dominate their wives so we try to make women think, is this because women lack skills

and business skills and motivate them."

Chamthan was speaking at Khemara's office in Wat Otra Wattai in the industrial area

of Russei Keo, north of Phnom Penh. Life was very difficult for women in the area,

she said, as they were very poor and were mostly widows with children. They take

difficult jobs involving heavy lifting, when they can get them, and rampant inflation

in the last few years is making them poorer still.

"These heavy jobs can be very bad for their health, which is already poor,"

Chamthan said, "and with nowhere to leave the children the older ones are kept

out of school to mind the younger ones at home."

Crèches in two villages, run by a rotation of mothers with young women to

help them, have solved that problem. Training in skills and leadership and food processing

means that "their voice may be raised in the community," Chamthan added.

People often ask Chamthan why Khemara's credit program charges interest on group

loans-why not give the women money? "We charge 5 percent, while the rich people

charge 20, so it is easier for them to repay, but it also gives them dignity,"

she said.

Khemara was set up in 1991 and 99 per cent of its staff are women. Its philosophy

is to promote the participation of women-and particularly to build their leadership

skills.

The income generation scheme has been renamed "Women in Business," to reflect

participants newly-acquired confidence. In the past year Khemara has extended its

activities to a rural area of Kompong Speu where silkworm rearing was once an established

industry.

"Before we came (women) were not rearing silkworms, but were going to the mountain

to cut wood. Many of them were sick with malaria as a result. We thought it was important

to the country as well as for the women to revive silkworm breeding," Chamthan

said.

Khemara buys raw silk and takes it to their Russei Keo center and woven into fabric.

"But we plan to train women in weaving in Kompong Speu and have the weaving

done there soon," Chamthan added.

MOST VIEWED

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,

  • More than 540 deported in first nine months

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) deported 542 foreigners in the first nine months of this year for various offences. GDI spokesman Keo Vanthan said the deportees were a mix of 40 nationalities, most of them Chinese. Since 2014, he said the GDI had