Sochea’s Sweet Summer
This summer was a whole new experience for me. I got an opportunity to travel back to Cambodia to do an internship and complete my Make a Change Project. From mid-May to early August, I did a part-time internship with Plan International Cambodia, working on Integrated Nutrition, Early Childhood Care Development, and WASH Program. Plan International Cambodia is a non-profit organization that strives for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. They’ve supported children, especially the most marginalized, to realize their potential since 2002. As a program intern, I worked closely with my supervisor to assist the Healthy Starts which aims to reduce stunting among children aged 0-5, promote zero open defecation, and enable children and their families to have sustained access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene services.
Through working with Plan International Cambodia, I gained valuable knowledge on integrated WASH and Nutrition through participating in different meetings, learning from my supervisor on action research, reviewing the proposals, and developing case studies. This allowed me to enrich my knowledge and experiences of how non-profit organizations work. Moreover, this internship provided me the opportunity to build networks with different organizations that share the same vision of improving access to clean water, hygiene, and sanitation practices. I have been passionate about international development and policy, and this internship was a great learning platform and experience where I learned about the problem and what needs to be improved in the community in terms of water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Along with this internship, I also executed my own community project called Women’s Water and Sustainable Livelihood in Cambodia. This project aimed to improve access to clean water and increase the food security of many smallholder women farmers in a rural community. For my project, I collaborated with the school principal and village chief to dig a well in Sala Andet Primary School that now supplies fresh water to 741 school children and their families. Additionally, I organized training for 10 families to raise chickens by providing them with skills and resources to start their own poultry farming.
I am grateful for all the support and opportunities that have allowed me to put my knowledge into practice. This summer was the most valuable memory and experience for me, to visit my family and complete my project initiative and internship. During these three months in Cambodia, I developed many entrepreneurial, leadership, and collaboration skills such as analyzing, planning, problem-solving, and communication skills. All of these skills will be useful in my academic and professional life because it will help me to become a more critical, mature, and independent person. Those experiences also helped me understand what needs to be changed at a grass-roots level and how to empower the community because I believe the prosperity we all want to see begins with community development. As a future leader, it’s important that I go and learn about the problems in the community and prepare myself to be a change-maker after graduating from college.