Let’s get to know the people who empower Battambang communities

By Afifah Hanim Muhammad Hisham

Meet Mr Hy Sros. As the Executive Director of Development Association Economic Resources (DARE, now Community Training Organisation for Development), he has been a visionary and hardworking person. He has dedicated his energy to supporting the people of Battambang province out of his compassion and close relationship with them. Coming from the community himself, he has witnessed all forms of deprivation of rights and unfortunate conditions, from education and agriculture to clean water and sanitation among the villagers. Therefore, he formed DARE with several other members and volunteers to take action on their needs.

Mr Sros at the Community Assessment Capacity Building Workshop in October 2017

On 24th October 2011, Mr. Sros and five other pioneers registered DARE as a non-profit and non-partisan association under the Ministry of Interior of Cambodia. The founders were Mr Sros himself as the President, Ms Bun Bit as his Vice President, Ms Yang Sathani as the Administrator, Ms Sun Vannary as the Accountant, Mr Thav Bunthong as Head of Educational Programs and Mr Tat Phean as Head of Agriculture Programs. They came from different universities in Battambang with the same goal: to provide assistance to their fellow hometown communities. With the end in mind to empower the Battambang people, they dedicated their time and effort to plan, collaborate and bring their plans into reality.

Projects that helped empower the Battambang community:

1. Children Educational Support Program
DARE took the initiative to research and develop the safety policies of the school children in ten schools in Koskralor District, Battambang. The aim was to ensure the safety of the children in the schools. Furthermore, through a collaboration with the Cambodia Seventh Day Adventist Church organisation, the villagers now can enjoy the privilege of having a community library in their neighbourhood. The sources of books and references are very beneficial, especially for the students of the villages who cannot afford to buy them.

2. Agricultural Projects
DARE cooperated with the Khmer National Community Economic Development (KNCED) to provide workshops on how to raise farm animals like pigs, hens, and fish and how to grow home garden vegetables to poor villagers of Kampongpreas and Kohchiveang communes. The workshops helped cater to the needs of more than 50 families.

3. English and Computer Classes
In 2010, DARE opened English and computer classes to poor teenagers in Battambang province. More than 200 teenagers came together to benefit from these skills learning opportunities.

And there are many more projects arising from the constant efforts of DARE to support the development of Battambang community.

Cambodians who have participated in DARE initiatives. Top left: Young children and teenagers participating in English classes. Top right: Dare members assessing the development of schoolchildren. Bottom left: A villager tending to chickens. Bottom right: A villager crafting wood carpentry in the style of Banteay Srey Temple.

Mr. Sros explained why he dedicates his life to such projects,

“We love the Khmer people. We have seen the difficulties of the poor villagers who simply do not have much choice. For instance, how they are unjustly being taken advantage by the rich and powerful when they borrow money from the middle men or banks; the money they need to pay back is never enough for themselves. Not to mention how scarce important resources such as clean water and sanitation are for daily usage; they have to walk to another village or someplace far away to fulfil their needs.”

Indeed, Mr. Sros realized the importance to empower these people to have better choices. Therefore, DARE was established to realize their vision of a more democratic, more resourceful and self-reliant Khmer people. Their projects have empowered men, women, and children alike.

Their most recent project is the Battambang drought project at two villages in Tapon commune; Boeung Tim village and Svay Sar village. This project is a partnership with WISE. Started in 2016, this project aims to provide long-term access to clean water to the villagers. Thanks to the support of Khmer people, both organizations have collected preliminary information needed for all 300 families there. One of the first steps that DARE would like to implement to obtain clean water in the villages is to dig a pond.

Unfortunately, DARE organisation recently faced a major inconvenience during the process. Due to some legal technicalities, Mr. Sros and his team had to re-register his organization under a new name, and needed some funds to do so. WISE launched a crowdfunding campaign to fundraising S$2000. That was the amount needed for Mr. Sros and the team to start operating again.

WISE donors have collected enough funds and DARE will once again resume their activities under a brand new organisation, Community Training Organization for Development (CTOD). It is essential not only for CTOD, but for the Battambang communities who were being served by DARE. Your generosity is a major factor in shaping the future of these communities. We cannot thank you enough!

Afifah Hanim Muhammad Hisham is a writer who was mobilised through UNV’s Online Volunteering Service.

Click here for the Khmer translation of the article.

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