In times of pandemics, well informed and organized communities are crucial for containing the disease. Therefore, ACT-member Life with Dignity (LWD) supports people focused on awareness raising in Cambodian communities – highly motivated persons like Ngin Thoeurn and Chhuon Phen.
During the COVID-crisis, people all over the world had to learn the necessary steps to help prevent the spread of the virus. Awareness raising was crucial. In countries like Cambodia where people don’t necessarily have access to the internet or television, information about urgent health issues must be provided at the grassroot level in the community. ACT member organizations facilitate these efforts, not just to provide accurate and timely information, but also to support the most vulnerable people in the communities. How does this approach work in Cambodia with ACT-member Life with Dignity?
Successfully combatting COVID-19: a team effort
Mrs. Ngin Thoeurn, a 58-years-old active member of the commune committee for women and children, is working at a small commune named Phteah Rung in the Pursat province in Central Cambodia. Communes in Cambodia are subdivisions of districts, consisting of three to thirty villages. LWD invited Ngin to participate in a half-day COVID-19 awareness training with other key stakeholders like commune councils, the police and youth. There, she gained more knowledge on how to prevent the COVID-19 outbreak by cleaning hands, wearing masks and respecting social distancing. After the orientation, LWD provided material for conducting awareness raising sessions to the participants such as alcohol, masks, gloves, soaps, sanitizers, and posters.
With these materials, Ngin and the other participants from her commune organized a COVID-19 awareness campaign from March to mid-May 2020, with seven trainings per commune. LWD’s field staff ensured an efficient and effective implementation of the activities and provided ongoing coaching by phone and face-to-face with her. “I am very delighted to see my community’s people paying attention to what has been said and thus preventing this outbreak”, she said afterwards with a smile. So far, the country officially has only seen a total of 126 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Useful know-how as an educator
In the Battambang province, Miss Chhuon Phen, a 28-years-old woman from the Pech Chenda commune, got involved with LWD as their community youth peer-to-peer educator for their Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation project. After the outbreak of COVID-19, she became active in conducting awareness-raising sessions as well, completing a half-day training organised by LWD.
After receiving materials and financial support from LWD, she developed a workplan with community youth and commune council members on conducting awareness raising sessions about COVID-19 in all the villages, holding them three times per commune. LWD’s field staff made sure that the sessions were carried out in an efficient and effective way and coached her as well. “I have also educated my family members and other youth group members on how to prevent this outbreak in the community”, Chhuon explains proudly.
Commitment on community level is crucial
The ACT Alliance is aware that beyond the medical and material response, strategies to contain pandemics like the Corona virus rely on social mobilization and behavioral change. That’s why work in the communities, good collaboration and cooperation among the local stakeholders and dedicated role models like Ngin Thoeurn and Chhuon Phen are so important to its members.