Location: Kampong Chhnang village 1, Battambang province
Summary: Empowered by Banteay Srei’s capacity building support, Som Art plays an active part in her community’s development process and was recently elected as president of her community facilitator network, representing five target villages.
A quiet, softly spoken young woman aged 32, Som Art is not a typical leader in rural Cambodia. Yet in December 2012, Som Art was elected by her community to represent five Banteay Srei target villages as president of her community facilitator network. “Before I was a community facilitator I was a housewife and I stayed at home and looked after my four children. I was not brave. Now I am a leader in my village, I can help my community solve problems and improve our livelihoods” Som Art explains.
Som Art has been volunteering as a community facilitator since 2008, and in that time she has seen many changes. In four years, Som Art along with five other community facilitators has successfully established a thriving mushroom growing livelihood programme, a cow bank for the poorest families in her village, a credit scheme and a gender-based violence support network. “Through these development projects we can help ourselves and our community members” Som Art says assertively.
Though she feels daunted by the tasks ahead of her in her new role as president of her community facilitator network, Som Art describes how her status has changed since she has taken on more responsibilities: “Before I just had control within my family, now I have control outside the family as well. I have to think about many things now and manage my time well, this gives me more purpose and allows me to grow and my ideas to develop”.
As a community facilitator, Som Art works with her community to identify needs and to develop local solutions. Last year, the main road through the village was in dire need of repair and so after raising the issue with the commune council with no success, Som Art was able to raise the resources within her own community together with support from Banteay Srei. “So my community was able to repair the road ourselves,” Som Art says proudly.