Last Sunday we made the seven hour trip north to Siem Reap, thankful for a very comfortable vehicle, fabulous driver and great company. The evening was spent settling into our hotel and making the final preparations for our first joint TOT with RHAC and TWR staff. This is a pilot project in an area just north of Siem Reap which is made up of twelve communes with about 210 families per commune. TWR staff, Kimsong, Marianne and Sangva are not only essential for translation purposes but are very effective facilitators and, of course, can do it in language of the participants.

The purpose of this training was not only to train local trainers but also to enable us to better understand the curriculum that is being taught throughout Cambodia and to demonstrate the importance of integrating solid moral values into the information they are providing. Our class consisted of ten local RHAC staff, ten Youth Peer Educators and ten members of the Pouk Commune Council and Women’s Council. The CHE lessons are designed to draw out information through role plays, demonstrations and discussions rather than simply giving out information and the participants excitedly took part in each activity.

It is most unusual, especially for the TWR guys to be part of “Comprehensive Sexuality Education Concepts” training but a joy to be allowed to teach “Self Esteem: I am Unique”, “Self Control” ,“Critical Thinking/Decision Making” and “Beliefs Have Consequences” and to reinforce such concepts as the duty and responsibility that comes along with sexual rights and the short and long term impact of decisions made related to sexuality and health.

On the fourth day we went out into one of the villages and the students facilitated three of the lessons in a pagoda with about thirty villagers, mostly women, using some of the role plays and methods they had learned. It was a real joy to see how the people so quickly grasped the concepts and the debate that followed. As the leader of the village was a student and lead some of the discussion, it was pretty cool to see the women now with some cold, hard facts demanding that the head man now teach these same lessons to the men and make the needed changes.

The almost two years of background networking and training really only begins to make sense as we see this information taught by Cambodians to local villagers in their own heart language. The lessons are incredibly powerful and in most cases this is the first time that people have the language and tools to understand, teach and discuss the day to day problems that overwhelm them.
We left very excited and tired; Bill with pneumonia, and a real sense that this project has the potential to change lives and communities. The radio broadcasts that TWR provides will continue to  reinforce these very Biblical concepts and provide contact information for individual follow-up.