Sakun: A Peaceful Reconciliation Story through Training

Location: Kok Phnov Village, Siem Reap

Summary: After having received training on peaceful conflict reconciliation, Sakun improved her relationship with her husband and children, as well as with her wider community, making her even more involved and useful in her role as a Community Facilitator. 

case study 3Sakun is 28 years old and lives in Kok Phnov Village, Pourk District, Siem Reap. She first volunteered to serve her village through development work by taking the role as Community Facilitator 6 years ago. She has two daughters with her husband, Hanhay, who is 29 years old.

Sakun makes a living through chicken farming and growing vegetables and flowers on the families land. In the dry season, they also sell soil. In her free time, Sakun participates in social work to aide her village in her role as Community Facilitator. In this role, she facilitates small community meetings in order to explore problems faced by poorer families, and any possible solutions that could be provided. She meets monthly with commune councils to discuss these community concerns, and attends network meetings at the provincial and national levels to promote human rights and legal accountability related to domestic violence against women. She plays an active role in advocating for members of the community in instances of domestic violence, and attends training courses to strengthen her skills as a community facilitator.

Sakun was nominated to receive training through Banteay Srei with Peace Bridge, a partner organization that trains individuals to become Community Facilitators with the goal of peaceful conflict resolution. Before receiving this training, Sakun’s husband, Hanhay, used to be very shy and was not welcoming neighbors and his wider community. He did not help Sakun with house work or childcare responsibilities. He was verbally aggressive to the children, which caused Sakun to shout back at him before leaving to her mother’s house. Communication was at an all-time low in their relationship, and whenever Hanhay would make money selling soil, he would spend it on drinking with his friends.

Sakun has received the Peace Bridge training one week per month for a ten month period, and she already notices a significant change in her relationship with her husband and children as well as with the wider community. She started to apply the knowledge she was gaining through the Peace Bridge programme first at family level, by building a closer relationship with her children through tutoring them each evening. With her encouragement and support they were being rated 2nd and 3rd in their class and she could see how happy they were to be learning.

She then started to work to reconcile issues with her husband. After dinner they would discuss what they liked and disliked about their relationship and their behavior towards each other. From there, they were able to talk about their goals for the family. Before long, Sakun noticed that her husband stopped shouting at the children, he would bathe them and prepare their clothes for them. He would play with the children more, help with the gardening and reduced his drinking with friends. He started doing housework and cooking and apologized when he made mistakes. She noticed a considerable change in his behavior; he was more welcoming to neighbors and was not as angry as he once was. Sakun also adapted her own behavior, too. She no longer kept any secrets from her husband as she had done previously. Overall she began to be a lot more patient and tolerant and began to think more before reacting impulsively.

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Having adopted these practices in the home, she began working to make the same changes with her relationship with community members. Before, when she worked with the community she experienced conflicts with community members. Now she has learnt to accept responsibility and tries to remain positive and calm, whilst striving to resolve conflicts peacefully. She also provides encouragement to the working group to adopt the same principles in peaceful communication. Sakun said, “Before I never thought about goals in life but now I do; I have two goals. The first is to strengthen my own capacity to obtain a sustainable living and the second is to save money to support my children so they can finish their education.” Hanhay explained, “I love my wife. She helped to change the family and she helps the community to have a better understanding of how to live peacefully through the work she does with them.’

Banteay Srei staff met with the Community Facilitators who explained “we can see that her speech is more reasonable and measured when dealing with conflicting issues, she is able to raise examples and explain best practice approaches in problem solving to community members. She uses a much softer approach than before and is particularly interested in helping women with their issues and encourages them to be brave and speak about their problems, encouraging them to take responsibility and not always be quick to blame other people.”