Advisor to Non-Profit Education Institution and Missionary, Phnom Penh
Mr. San attended Peace Bridges cohort 2 in 2005. He is a leader working with youth and education, a theme which follows through to his church. He believes in the importance of training up youth to be constructive members of society.
Mr. San originally decided to attend Peace Bridges because he wanted to create peace in his life, his family and his community.
“Before, my behavior was bad. I was easily angry and unhappy. At the Peace Bridges training, they taught me useful skills for my life. I discovered how listening and analysis skills are so important for resolving interpersonal conflict. Listening allows us to deeply and clearly understand information that we are given. Through good listening we can have peace in our lives. I discovered as the leader of an organization, if my staff doesn’t listen to each other, we will have problems with our organization. For this reason, I incorporated Peace Bridges lessons into my work. I adhere to peace in my life because peace must come from me if we want to see peace and happiness in our families and society.”
Mr. San shared a story about his own transformation in 2005. During the Peace Bridges’ training, he learned that an acquaintance was filing a legal complaint against him. He learned of the situation from his family. He asked his family to wait before getting involved. Mr. San wanted to talk to the man first and resolve the problem before it escalated. Right after the training finished, he went directly to speak to the man. Mr. San gently asked about the problem and the man shared his grievance. Mr. San reacted empathetically, using kind words. The man was surprised by this reaction. He expected an angry response from Mr. San and clearly respected his calm reaction. They were able to calmly resolve the issue. From this situation, Mr. San realized the importance of responding calmly to tense situations. He also realized that he had the capacity to respond constructively to problems.
Overall, Mr. San considers it a priority to demonstrate what he has learned, in addition to speaking about it. He wants to show changed actions.
Mr. San’s Community: In his community, Mr. San has connections with a great number of people. He knows many students, teachers, pastors, church members and many other nongovernmental organizations and their staff who work in his area.
The problem he faces most in his community is differences of opinion. Within his NGO and other NGOs that he knows of, often people have different ideas of how to do the same activity. Mr. San tries to listen to these problems and respond empathetically. His strategy is to listen, evaluate and help the person consider their options. Option generation has come a very useful tool in his work.
Mr. San sees that poor families he knows are vulnerable to domestic violence and conflict. He considers sharing peacebuilding to be important in moving out of poverty. He knows that everyone has conflict, but he has seen even more in poor families.
Mr. San’s Work: Mr. San works for a mission coalition. His work involves providing counseling to families and with students. Often families in the church request counseling services. He provides trainings to students on listening, conflict analysis and shalom. Occasionally he will also conduct mediations. He feels that currently, he has great communication with his colleagues. His work allows him to interact most regularly with student’s staff at his organization and church members.
Previously, he was director at a respected nonprofit educational institute. He still serves as an advisor to this organization. In 2012, along with Peace Bridges’ assistance, he offered one four-month peacebuilding training for students at this institute.
Mr. San also takes an active role at his church which focuses on youth ministry. Mr. San helps educate youth leaders. He’s also starting a church project on health and hygiene, developing capacity and finding partners for the project. He actively takes part in all church trainings. His church does a small amount of work with emergencies and civic engagement, but he’s less involved with this side of their ministry. He still encourages their work which varies from trash clean-up and helping farmers grow rice.
Impact of Mr. San’s Work: In his previous position as director of a Cambodian education institute, Mr. San mainstreamed many of the Peace Bridges lessons into the programs. He also sent several of his staff to Peace Bridges. He incorporates lessons from Peace Bridges with his staff devotions to teach about managing emotions and working collaboratively. He tries to connect faith with peacebuilding.
After conducting the Peace Bridges training at his workplace, he saw positive results in the students. First, he noticed they gossiped less, and wasted less time at school. Secondly, he noticed specifically at meals, they were more likely to share and interact amicably with each other. Mr. San believes that by working with students and helping them find internal peace and happiness as young people, he will prevent countless of future social problems.
Mr. San is also involved in mediating issues within his community. Whenever he offers this service, he encourages compromise and listening. He shared several different examples of the types of issues he’s mediated. He has worked with students, bringing them together in a mediation session where they were able to voice their frustrations and reconcile their friendship. He recently mediated a family dispute, after which the family was able to live together without arguments.
Mr. San’s Vision for the Future: Mr. San hopes to continue building his knowledge of peacebuilding to strengthen his work and personal life. He knows the importance of follow up with his beneficiaries and plans to specifically do this.
Long-term, Mr. San would like to incorporate peacebuilding into schools. He sees a need to work with students and teachers in order to build a more peaceful society and to move towards greater social development. He’s certain that when society becomes more peaceful, economic and social development will follow. He would also like to conduct more training directly with his community, alongside his work with the church.
Nonprofit Manager, Siem Riep Province
Mrs. Deng lives with her family in northern Cambodia. She joined the Peace Bridges training in 2012, later taking Part C. The lesson that Mrs. Deng feels most helped her was the 10 characteristics of healthy families from Pat C. Communication and commitment are two important new values to her. Since the training, she uses listening, communication and forgiveness frequently. She’s thankful for the change in herself and her family.
“Even though we have some issues, we now share as a family. Before I thought I was too busy to properly look after our children. Before when someone did something that made me unhappy, I never explored the issue beyond the surface level. When I did, I had an angry accusing attitude. No one responds positively when you’re angry or accusing! I made mistakes in the past. I know myself. But now I’m able to be objective as well as control my feelings.”
“Before, I had a bad anger problem. When I was angry at someone, I would stop speaking to them. Once I was so angry with my husband, I didn’t speak to him for several weeks. At the training, I learned about understanding each other’s needs and I started to change. The most recent time I was angry with my husband, it was only for two days. There are still issues in our family, but I don’t allow the problems to control me. I try to resolve problems quickly. I don’t keep them in my mind. I know how to release my bad feelings. Now I know how to ask direct questions and solve issues collaborative.”
Mrs. Deng’s Community: Due to her work, Mrs. Deng has relationships with village and commune chiefs. She communicates with her beneficiaries at work, families living on the very edge of poverty.
In her community, Mrs. Deng considers the most vulnerable people to be women married to alcoholics. In the last week, Mrs. Deng noticed several children were missing from her organization’s learning center. When she went to their home to investigate, she discovered the children’s mother had a life-threatening head wound. The women’s drunken husband had smashed her head. The woman was too afraid to report it. She didn’t even bother to have the wound treated. She was certain she would die soon anyway. The husband hadn’t been sober long enough to assess the situation. After some convincing, Mrs. Deng finally helped the woman to seek medical help.
Alcoholism deeply concerns Mrs. Deng. She sees many problems are caused by it. Alcoholic men strip their families their few resources, selling their businesses and valuables which only increases their stress and propels them to drink even more. Mrs. Deng is particularly disturbed by child alcoholism. She is looking for organizational partners to help work on this issue. Two final issues also troubling Mrs. Deng are gambling and mistrust in families. She doesn’t think all conflicts lead to poverty. There are exceptions. However, she has noticed a strong connection between poverty and alcoholism, gambling and mistrust in her community.
Mrs. Deng’s Work: Mrs. Deng works as a manager with a small Cambodian organization. She manages staff as well as beneficiaries. Her organization works with 52 poor families. These families live on the extreme edge of poverty with the most menial jobs; waste collectors, recyclers, day laborers, bar girls, and cake sellers. These families are neglected by the wider society. Most of the children are out of school doing meager jobs. The girls often work at night as trash collectors. Because few families have birth certificates or legal documents, they are increasingly at risk. The families struggle with abuse, violence, alcoholism, gambling and migration. Of 52, only two families own their own homes.
Mrs. Deng feels compelled to work with these vulnerable people. Her organization assists getting legal documentation, providing a small allotment of rice, and offering an informal learning center for their children who can’t attend the public schools. With all the families, Mrs. Deng’s organization tries to stay involved. For the families struggling with violence, they visit more frequently to deescalate tensions. For families struggling with gambling, they don’t confront them at the gambling sites. Instead, they talk to these men at their homes, away from social pressure where they are more receptive to help.
Home visits play an important role in Mrs. Deng’s work. She visits the families monthly to discuss child education, as well as share resources if they are experiencing domestic abuse. She tries to assess the family’s wellbeing and economic situation. Mrs. Deng holds monthly meetings for these families on practical topics such as health, hygiene, and nutrition.
Impact of Mr. Deng’s Work: In all their work, Mrs. Deng and her staff uses Peace Bridges lessons to identify needs and express empathy. Mrs. Deng knows that she can’t change everything but she knows that slowly she can change some behaviors. She’s seen that home visits are an effective tool to helping families and preventing further problems.
In her encounters with many poor families, Mrs. Deng constantly faces apathy. She noticed that that some families experience so much despair they simply didn’t care about efforts to help them. Mrs. Deng uses the lessons from Peace Bridges to connect with people, especially to listen to them. When she knows that her beneficiaries aren’t honest with her, she draws on the Peace Bridges lessons to stay calm and analyze the situation. Sometimes, she must brainstorm and be creative. She is amazed how useful listening skills have affected her work.
Thus far, Mrs. Deng hasn’t had time to conduct any formal peace trainings with her beneficiaries. Still, she informally shares with them and listening and healthy families. On home visits, she teaches parents to listen to their children; to sit down and have meaningful conversations as a family. She encourages parents to be direct with their children; to explain their motivations and needs. She has seen several parents pay more attention to their children’s well-being, especially their education and hygiene. Several families communicate better with their children. Families are also more willing to join in her organization’s monthly meetings.
Thus far, Mrs. Deng thinks staff is the main beneficiaries of her new peace knowledge. Her colleagues have given her positive feedback about her personal change. They are more open and honest with her. She uses listening with her staff and encourages them to come to her with their personal and professional problems. One example is a staff member in the middle of a divorce, who Mrs. Deng counseled and supported. Mr. Deng encourages her staff to think long-term and consider the consequences of their actions.
Mrs. Deng tries to build a positively and healthy environment for staff. She mediates conflict at work as well. She most recently mediated a messy conflict when the wife of a staff member assumed her husband was having an affair with a colleague. The problem escalated to home visits and shouting matches. Mrs. Deng consulted with all parties individually and found that the accusations were false. Eventually the parties were able to come together to talk through the situation and reconcile. Mrs. Deng reported that all parties are now amicable.
Due to the nature of their work, Mrs. Deng and her staff often feel disheartened by all the problems they encounter with families. They find themselves tired and frustrated by the slow change. The lessons from Peace Bridges have helped them learn to process these feelings in a healthy way. They are able to work reflectively and not internalize disappointments and stress. Thanks to the peace lessons, Mrs. Deng has observed that her staff members are more positive about their jobs. Mrs. Deng herself is thankful that she has tools and knowledge to be patient with herself.
Mrs. Deng’s Vision for the Future: Mrs. Deng has seen great personal change in herself after the Peace Bridges training. Because of this she will continue to work with her family. Mrs. Deng has plans to hold several trainings on listening, nonviolence, and forgiveness with her beneficiaries. She wants to offer in-depth training that will enable these families to transform. She will reformat the content to be short and easily understood by all. She sees great potential for resolving many of the problems her beneficiaries face and preventing them even further.
When Mrs. Deng envisions the future, she hopes all children in her community will graduate high school with useful life skills. She hopes to see more trust in her community. She hopes to see children breaking cycles of violence and negativity and living a brighter future than their parents.
Pastor, Kandal Province
Mr. Ros lives in Kandal with his wife and five children. He participated in Peace Bridges Cohort 5 and later went on to join Part C. He experienced both personal and professional transformation because of the training. He learned about listening, conflict resolution skills, and good methods for asking questions to help his community.
“Everything I learned in the training, I first applied to my family. In the past, I used a stick to punish and educate my children. Now I see this was abuse. I saw how there was a barrier between me and my children. I need to use words to influence them and change their behavior. I realized that if I kept running my household using violence like that, I wouldn’t have trust with my family. I wouldn’t build trust with anyone. Now I am very close with my children. They come to me whenever they have problems. They respect me now. Now I’m a role model in society and I have more influence.”
“One example of my change is in my family. My second son and I used to have many arguments. He is adopted. Previously, he would run away whenever we argued. I would get so angry and think about throwing him out of the family. After the training, I realized that I didn’t want to have conflict in my family, especially with him. After several months, we slowly reconciled. He was able to accept that we are his family and we love him. The past is the past. Now we have better communication and we are patient. He’s a good son and helps me a lot.”
A small change Mr. Ros reports is that now he calls his family if he’s out late or won’t be home for meals. In the past, this caused tension with his wife. He realized how easily he could resolve the issue by developing a small new habit.
Mr. Ros was later mobilized by Peace Bridges. With assistance from Peace Bridges, he held a multi-day training for 28 church members on listening skills.
Mr. Ros’ Community: Through his work, Mr. Ros is well aware of community issues. The problems he encounters are low education, low problem solving skills and domestic violence. The local authorities aren’t interested in these small problems. He’s noticed that sometimes powerful people in the area manipulate circumstances for personal gain, especially with land. He interacts with local authorities and community members in Kandal but also in Tekeo where he works. In Tekeo, his church supports a learning center for poor children. He has positive relationships with the teachers and students at this learning center.
In Mr. Ros’ church, most the members are poor families. Most the poor and vulnerable people in his community have low education. They are easily affected by land grabbing. He’s seen more domestic violence with poorer families which he think correlates to their low problem solving skills. Mr. Ros has noticed that the authorities often ignore these cases. Many poor families pull their children out of school to find and sell crabs, making between $1 and $1.25 a day. Sometimes poor families are forced to sell their land which can push them into extreme poverty. As a result, many illegally migrate for work in Thailand.
Mr. Ros Work: Mr. Ros lives and works mainly in the Kandal area. He is a full-time salaried pastor at his church. His work occasionally takes him to Takeo and Banteay Meanchey. He also travels within Kandal.
Mr. Ros works with two other pastors at his church. He focuses on spirituality and church planting, another focuses on counseling, and the final pastor focuses on community and social development. In the past, Mr. Ros would teach solely on spirituality from the Bible. Since the Peace Bridges training, he incorporates messages of nonviolence, domestic violence prevention, and critical thinking for problem solving.
Because so many church members are poor, the church tries to help them with their basic needs. The church is extremely active with many different ministries and development projects. The church runs a learning center, health and hygiene projects such as well construction, and full time counseling services. Mr. Ros estimates that between 50%-60% of the people involved in his church’s projects experienced positive changes, both behavioral and economic. Since the training, Mr. Ros has incorporated peacebuilding messages into the church’s work. He uses listening and role plays to convey messages. Because of the church’s wide impact, Mr. Ros sees great potential for spreading peace.
Though Mr. Ros’ is fully occupied with church work, he still spends time training and encouraging members of his community. He takes time to be a good empathetic listener. He has good relationships with Christians and non-Christians in his community.
Impact of Mr. Ros Work: Since Mr. Ros began to practice his new peaceful values, he’s noticed that church and community members regularly communicate better with him and each other. He feels that now he has respect with people in his community. People see him as a role model.
Mr. Ros has seen results from the Peace Bridges’ mobilization training. One family who attended had problems with domestic violence. Since the training, the violence stopped and their relationships improved. Another family also pledged to change after the training but they still struggle. Mr. Ros still follows up with that family who regularly ask him for advice. He’s seen about 10 families change since this training.
As a result of the Peace Bridges training, Mr. Ros now works more collaboratively with the other pastors at his church. Before, they viewed their work as mutually exclusive and rarely shared their skills and knowledge. They would become defensive and it soured their relationships. Occasionally they would get into heated arguments about the church budget. Mr. Ros remembers a time when he was so upset with his colleagues that he slammed the table and left angrily. Now, they share and solve problems together, collaborate peacefully and have good relationships. Mr. Ros himself is more sensitive to social issues than before.
In his community, Mr. Ros enjoys solving land disputes. Recently, some neighbors were fighting over their land boundaries. The conflict escalated to the point of a physical fight. Mr. Ros intervened and was able to peacefully mediate the conflict. He’s noticed that since this case, many of the land disputes have deescalated, though he’s not certain this is directly a result from his work.
Mr. Ros is always counseling people to break negative habits. He tries to discourage migration to Thailand, pointing out that many migrants fall victims to trafficking. He also tries to encourage parents to think about the long-term future and enroll their children in school. He considers children to be beneficiaries of his ministry.
Mr. Ros is proud his church members and colleagues have better knowledge of conflict resolution, and the negative impacts of domestic violence. He’s seen many families use listening skills in their families. He knows that he can’t prevent all the bad behavior in his community, but he hopes that through peacebuilding education he can prevent most of it from happening again. He feels that since so many church and community members are more educated thanks to Peace Bridges and his church, they have already prevented much bad behavior.
Mr. Ros Vision for the Future: Even with all the issues in his community, Mr. Ros believes they can change for the better. There has already been a drop in domestic violence and conflict and he knows that it can happen further. He sees opportunities with other pastors in his church to hold more training and impact even more people. He would like to work with students more in the future.
Mr. Ros hopes to work long-term for peace in his community. With his current beneficiaries, he will continue supporting them so they don’t feel alone. He wants to continue following up. He has great hope for the next generation who will continue the positive behavior they have started. He believes his community has great human capital for peace.
Because of the success in his community, Mr. Ros hopes to expand his ministry to another community close by where they will teach peacebuilding and healthy family messages.
Regional Pastoral Coordinator for a NGO, Pastor, Prey Veng Province
Mr. Meas attended the Peace Bridges training in 2009. He was selected for his work with the church and with community development. Now he works with an NGO coordinating pastors in Prey Veng Province. Attending Peace Bridges profoundly impacted his personal life, his ministry and his work. The lessons helped to help him connect better with people. Even when his colleagues have different goals and ideas, they can still get along. Mr. Meas is a thoughtful practitioner, and often thinks about how peacebuilding and development in his village are linked. He often brings these observations to the pastors who he mentors.
“One change in my life relates to my work in the church. I have a painful history with my church. I helped to found this church over 10 years ago and I’ve been the person working with it most closely. It’s difficult when you’re the founder and someone else come and takes charge and brings change. It was like that for me. If it hadn’t been for the Peace Bridges training, I would have taken revenge. Now, I just want to help the church. I no longer have an attitude of revenge. This is my most important characteristic.
“The lessons from Peace Bridges helped me a lot. They helped me feel confident when I face problems. I am a person who plays a role in building peace. I can control situations and disputes and help find solution for both parties. I hold my ground as a peacebuilder, meaning I am committed to finding a peaceful solution.”
“The lessons I learned also relate to our lives. When we go to teach them, we have to adopt the lessons ourselves. Sometimes it’s difficult to be a good role model. I am not saying that I’m a perfect practitioner. However, if we study and put into practice what we learn, it will be useful for us. But if we don’t, it is useless.”
Mr. Meas Community: Because of his job, Mr. Meas interacts with pastors, church members, and church leaders. He has great relationships with these groups of people. Within the church, Mr. Meas often sees discord. For this reason, he’s committed to working with the church and offering trainings and advice.
The poor in his community are frequently hit hardest by health problems. Occasionally they are forced to sell their land to pay for medical care. Without the option of growing their own food, landlessness pushes them deeper into poverty. Mr. Meas has noticed that some poor families struggle internally with conflict. This disunity has economic consequences. Poor families often have fewer legal or economic connections. Mr. Meas shares that for everyone, making the right connections is key to moving ahead. The poor families in his community who have connections with the local authorities can access legal documents which can be a huge benefit. Those without these networks suffer. Mr. Meas’ church tries to help poor families in the community. For example, they help repair their homes before rainy season.
When asked to think about social problems in his community, Mr. Meas commented that decades of civil war and social upheaval resulted in low education. He’s noticed that few people think critically. Violence and intolerance are common. Small issues quickly escalate into huge conflicts. The civil war also set them back in terms of economic infrastructure. Mr. Meas also sees classism, with upper classes looking down on the poor. He wishes there was a greater spirit of cooperation, solidarity and a willingness to help each other.
Mr. Meas Work: Mr. Meas work keeps him in close contact with church leaders, building their capacity for church ministry and for social development. He often mediates conflicts, giving him opportunity to use the skills he learned from Peace Bridges. In all his work, he incorporates peacebuilding. He considers shalom the foundational lesson for both peace and church development work. He also shares lessons on listening, forgiveness and basic conflict resolution steps.
Alongside his usual work, he’s involved in starting a church program addressing issues of gender. He’s in the process of trying to build better relationships with the monks in his area and hopes the church can work with them more collaboratively.
Impact of Mr. Meas Work: The Peace Bridges’ training gave Mr. Meas much respect among the various leaders in his community. He’s considered a resource and is often invited to consult on various community issues. His team of pastors is now stronger and kinder.
Mr. Meas considers peacebuilding important in helping his society rebuild what was lost in civil war. Peacebuilding can help society to be more collaborative, peaceful and mindful of the poor. He sees himself providing education though peace. Often when people encounter problems, they choose a solution that involves destroying themselves. This causes even greater poverty for them. By learning to identify good solutions to problems, they can improve their lives. Simply avoiding the judicial system saves families tremendous amounts of money and stress. Mr. Meas is certain that poverty and conflicts have been reduced as a result of his work.
Mr. Meas sees himself building bridges between Christians and non-Christians, encouraging people to work together for their social and economic development. In the last year, he’s begun to build relationships with the village chief and commune authorities. Eventually, he hopes to provide peace training to them. He would like them to work collaboratively with the church. Mr. Meas is building relationships with the local monks for the same reason.
Mr. Meas thinks the poor and local churches benefit most from his work. He’s glad to be working with so many pastors and networks. He uses the lesson of shalom to show pastors that Christianity encourages healthy social development. He teaches them to understand problems in the community where they work, and then identify local resources to address these problems. He shared that “whenever people know us, they call us when they have a problem. We come and act as good listeners and use questions that can help them find the solution for themselves.”
The values governing his work are illustrated in a story that Mr. Meas shared. Recently, a pastor tried to preach in a nearby area and failed miserably. Mr. Meas noticed that this pastor didn’t understand the needs of the area. Mr. Meas advised the pastor to go back and try to understand people’s needs. The pastor accepted this recommendation and he quickly learned that the community was upset there was no school for their children. The pastor worked with them to build the necessary relationships with the local authorities. Soon, they constructed a tiny bamboo and palm-leaf school. The pastor learned much from these events. He still comes to Mr. Meas for advice and Mr. Meas helps him brainstorm ideas to engage with people. Mr. Meas is proud of the pastor’s growth in this important area.
Mr. Meas sees a positive impact from sharing peacebuilding with church leaders. Now they work harmoniously with each other. They are committed to being united. They don’t want people outside the church to see them constantly fractured by conflict. Problems will always exist but now they work through their problems instead of breaking away. He sees training pastors as helping to heal a social problem from the inside. He’s seen these pastors are happier and have fewer conflicts. Many of the pastors are more consistent in their communication. For one woman, he saw how resolving family conflict allowed her greater freedom to volunteer in her community.
Getting to the root of a problem is important in Mr. Meas approach. He shared a story to illustrate this point.
Recently, someone purchased land for two communities to use. However, the two communities were not clear on the ownership and both claimed rights to it. Mr. Meas took it upon himself to visit the buyer and discuss with him his plans for developing the land. He discovered the property was to be shared. Later the two communities came together to discuss the situation. Once the confusion was cleared, the communities were able to reconcile and share the land. Mr. Meas shared that once the root of the problem has been addressed through good listening, it’s easier to resolve.
Mr. Meas Vision of the Future: Mr. Meas was inspired by how some Peace Bridges’ peacebuilders were forming a small network for informal dispute resolution. He learned about this at recent Peace Builders Alliance meeting. As a result of this meeting, Mr. Meas was inspired to try and form a group of mediators in his area. He’s seen that whenever people in his village use the formal judicial system, they generally lose. Many become poor because of it. By using an informal process, people will be able to access justice for themselves. While Mr. Meas and his pastors are already engaged in this work, he hopes to scale it up long-term.
Mr. Meas is also trying to encourage several monks to go through the Peace Bridges training. He hopes that having many voices promoting peace will have a positive effect on his community. It will also increase the number of skilled mediators in his village.
Staff of Child Rights Organization, Kandal Province
Mr. Um joined the Peace Bridges’ training in 2011, finishing Part A and Part B. Three other staff from Mr. Um’s organization also completed the Peace Bridges training. Mr. Um has seen changes in himself since the training. He strongly connected with the lesson on nonviolent communication and incorporated this into his life. Now he can identify feelings and needs when he speaks with people. When people get upset, he’s able to understand the source of their feelings and help them.
“Before when I didn’t like someone talking or their ideas, I would throw things and walk away. After I learned with Peace Bridges, I decided to discuss things with people to find reasons for our differences and ways to compromise together. An example is my family. I’m married and I also live with other relatives. They are always asking me to do things. Whenever I have a break from work, they ask me to do things. They didn’t understand my needs. My brother would need help with the littlest thing when I was tired and wanted to rest. But now I try to understand their needs and why they needed my help. Now I’m able to help my family without getting angry.”
Mr. Um’s Community: Mr. Um interacts with a wide number of people in his community; alcoholics, victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, youth in gangs, parents who keep their children out of school, community members with disabilities and those with low education. Mr. Um tries to constantly share good advice with people he meets. He does this through illustrations and stories.
The poor in Mr. Um’s community have small plots of land so are unable to grow their own food. Sometimes they don’t even own land. A common definition of poverty is not having enough rice or suffering from poor nutrition. Many poor families are headed by widows. Children are often out of school in order to work. Mr. Um has seen a lot of domestic violence in poor families. He considers the most vulnerable people in his community to be children with HIV or mental disabilities.
There are many issues affecting the poor in Mr. Um’s community. He has seen a small growing problem of youth and drugs which concerns him. Because of this, whenever there are festivals or community events, he stays until the end to make sure the girls reach home safely.
Other issues in Mr. Um’s community are low incomes and alcohol. Road construction often bypasses poor areas and the poor are required to move if they want good road access. Those who move are often forced to take out loans for new property which they can’t repay. Gambling is a huge problem which leads to domestic abuse. This abuse often traumatizes children and the public shame of it keeps them from attending school. Parents are reluctant to send their children to school when they struggle to feed themselves. When this happens, children are forced into menial jobs such as collecting snails to sell at the market.
After seeing all these issues, Mr. Um’s organization is preparing training on substance abuse to be delivered later in the year. Thus far, he has already provided training on drugs and parental rights.
Mr. Um thinks that poverty, low education, too much free time, alcohol and gambling all create conflict. Families with an unusually high work burden on the wife also struggle with conflict.
Mr. Um’s Work: Mr. Um has a background in community development. Eventually he found himself working in peacebuilding. Now he works for a child rights organization helping integrate Cambodian (or Khmer) and Vietnamese children and building relationships between these two communities. Many Vietnamese live in Cambodia where they face extremely racism and poverty. Mr. Um’s organization also provided training on rice farming, since most the community members depend on their rice crop. They have also offered training on raising animals.
Mr. Um’s organization interacts with families in the community, village chiefs, commune counselors and teachers. Mr. Um conducts follow up every week to ensure that beneficiaries are using the provided information. Together they talk about their observations. They ask parents to describe changes they see in their children. After that, they ask the children directly about their changes. Mr. Um feels these constant interactions are an important part of working step-by-step for change.
Impact of Mr. Um’s Work: Mr. Um shares that before the Peace Bridges training, he didn’t understand that much about peacebuilding. Even though he worked with Vietnamese families, he didn’t understand their culture or their styles of communication. He found this disconnect affected his work. After the training, he was able to find tools and methods to connect with people across cultural differences. He now finds his work easier.
As a result of the training, Mr. Um has mainstreamed some of the peace material into his work. He uses the “problem tree” tool frequently to find root causes and understand needs. He has used group discussions with his beneficiaries and asked them to raise issues and needs for themselves. Mr. Um is now alert for conflicts to resolve.
Mr. Um has also shared about peace with staff in his organization. He also shares with the children he works with. His colleague also trained in peace does likewise. Mr. Um has shared lessons on forgiveness, listening and uses of power. Since he began sharing these lessons, Mr. Um has better communication with his colleagues. They collaborate more. In the past, they would go straight home from work without engaging with each other. Now they interact at work and in their personal lives. If someone has a need, the team all pitches in to help. If they have a work party or gathering and one person can’t make it, they will cancel or postpone the event until everyone can come.
Mr. Um feels that the entire community benefits from his work and peacebuilding knowledge. Most specifically, children benefit from his work. Because of his organization’s work, Vietnamese and Khmer children are friendly with each other. He facilitates soccer games for the children and has seen changes in how the children communicate and a decrease in their discrimination towards each other. Khmer children previously hated the Vietnamese children, but they eventually learn this hatred is unfounded. Mr. Um’s Peace Bridges training has helped facilitate this change.
Mr. Um shared stories about situations he has mediated recently.
While playing soccer, two children accidentally kicked each other in the shins. This escalated into a fight. Mr. Um intervened and waited until the children had calmed down. He asked them to meet and they agreed. At the meeting, Mr. Um explained the importance of comprising. They were receptive to this message and forgave each other. Now they play soccer and talk together as friends.
In Mr. Um’s community, a married couple had difficulties. The husband had a gambling addiction. The wife was furious but the husband didn’t see any problem with it. The husband would take out his frustrations by hitting his wife. Mr. Um didn’t want to confront them directly. He suspected they would be too embarrassed to talk about it. Instead he went to the husband to understand the husband’s needs. Mr. Um praised the man’s wife and explained that the wife also had needs and feelings. Mr. Um asked the man if he was willing to resolve his family problems or if he needed assistance. The man decided to resolve the problems himself. Mr. Um counseled the man that the first step was to understand the feelings of those around you. Once you understand other’s feelings, you can adjust your behavior and find a good solution. Mr. Um has kept in touch with the man and saw that over time, the family developed much better communication. When Mr. Um visits them, he observes the couple going to the rice fields to work together. Sometimes they even hold hands.
Mr. Um’s Vision of the Future: Mr. Um hopes to continue becoming a peaceful person. He hopes that his peacefulness is evident and that people will continue to be comfortable and honest with him.
Mr. Um hopes to train community members to be resource people that will continue peace work after him. He works with 30 children in his target community and Mr. Um has faith they will work with him into the future and can positively impact others. With some planning and training, a wave of peace and stability will come. Mr. Um also has visions for creating a group of the Vietnamese community members who will brainstorm together ideas for raising their income through various job options. He hopes that through more stable incomes and jobs, family conflict will be reduced.
Counselor and NGO staff member, Battambang Province
Mrs. Chan lives with her family in Battambang in Northwestern Cambodia. She studied with Peace Bridges in 2011. Her specialty is counseling so the Peace Bridges training was highly useful in her work. She most appreciated the lessons on communication; listening and using considerate words. Mrs. Chan shares a story about his personal transformation.
I had a cool relationship with my brother-in-law. My brother-in-law lives far away. Once we had a small conflict and even though it was small, we weren’t motivated to resolve it. Neither of us was interested in developing a friendship. After the Peace Bridges training, I thought about this relationship. I decided it wasn’t helpful or peaceful. Since then, I made an effort with my brother-in-law. He even came to visit my family and stayed in our house! Now we have a good relationship.
Mrs. Chan learned a lot from these events. Even when people didn’t make an effort to talk to her like her brother-in-law, Mrs. Chan tries to be amicable back. She learned at Peace Bridges that everyone needs to feel respected and valued and she tries to practice these values. In the past, she wouldn’t censor her words. She didn’t hesitate telling someone they had a face that looked like a monkey. Now she tries to be as considerate as possible with her words.
“In the past, when my children talk with me, I didn’t really listen to them. I often responded negatively. For example, my daughter had a job that kept her out late. I was constantly upset with her about this. I was worried she was unsafe coming home late. After the training, I realized that I needed to have a conversation with her and listen to her. I explained the reasons for my concern and she was receptive. We were able to understand each other and resolve our conflict.”
Mrs. Chan’s Community: Mrs. Chan’s job keeps her connected to her community. She works for an organization helping children affected by trafficking and abuse. Many of the children have experienced trauma; parental divorce, dysfunctional homes, trafficking and domestic and sexual abuse. Most of the children have deep psychological problems. They tend to come from poor families and often their parents are overwhelmed by the situation and unable to help their child. Mrs. Chan works with children and their parents. She has built significant trust with various families, so much so that she’s shared her faith with several families.
Mrs. Chan identifies the vulnerable in his community to be poor families affected by domestic violence. This is often alcohol related. Mrs. Chan has seen many conflicts of this nature. Other families struggle when the head of the household migrates to Thailand for work, a risky arrangement that often results in trafficking. Landlessness contributes strongly to poverty. Mrs. Chan sees how conflict disrupts many people’s daily lives. Finally, she often sees children using crude, cruel and belittling language with each other. Sometimes children are even disrespectful communicating with older community members.
Mrs. Chan’s Work: Mrs. Chan’s organization’s targets children affected by trafficking and sexual abuse. They provide a center for the children to live until they’ve recovered. At this center, they provide basic health care and supplemental education classes alongside the local government school. They also provide vocational skills to help children reintegrate back into society and avoid further harm. Alongside this, the organization has a small agricultural project to help these families.
Mrs. Chan works with more than 80 children. Her role is to train counselors to work with this target group. She provides counseling one-on-one as well as in groups for healing and renewal. She identifies herself as a peacebuilder both professionally and personally and seeks to mainstream peacebuilding into all her work.
Mrs. Chan was recently asked by a local church to teach peacebuilding. This request stemmed from a concern by local pastors about the level of domestic violence in the area and the need to teach families about peace. Though the details haven’t been finalized, Mrs. Chan is excited by this new possibility.
Impact of Mrs. Chan’s Work: Mrs. Chan has collaborated with Peace Bridges over the past two years to provide training at her organization. Peace Bridges continues to provide support and training to her organization. All the staff at her organization and several pastors from the area joined in this training. She cares a lot about her colleagues and building a healthy work environment. Mrs. Chan considers the main beneficiaries of her new peace knowledge to be her colleagues, church members, and the children she counsels along with their parents.
Compared to before, Mrs. Chan’s colleagues are more patient. She noticed that staff who have adapted forgiveness and shalom have made changes in their lives. Two staff shared their change stories with her. One woman resolved to stop shouting at her husband and has reduced this behavior. Another woman was in a troubled marriage but through her commitment to peacebuilding, was able to make changes to now lives happily with her family.
Mrs. Chan believes that it’s very important for herself and colleagues to model peaceful behavior for the children they assist. The children will see through them if they don’t demonstrate their values. Mrs. Chan works with her staff to encourage them to keep their personal and work issues separate, and to model good behavior.
At her organization, Mrs. Chan finds herself resolving conflicts between children who are fighting. She also works with parents who often want to take their child home before the child is ready. Mrs. Chan uses her listening skills to connect with parents. Many parents are frustrated and confused by their child’s problems and Mrs. Chan willingly listens to their feelings and tries to gently help them understand. In these sessions, she incorporates the lessons of shalom and caring for each other.
Mrs. Chan provides weekly counseling to children in her organization. In these sessions, she helps them identify their feelings and control their anger. Occasionally, she will incorporate Biblical lessons. She also emphasizes forgiveness and listening. She sees forgiveness as an extremely important lesson because these children have never seen it modeled before. Yet Mrs. Chan feels passionately that for children suffering abuse, these lessons are critical if these children are to move forward positively. Mrs. Chan hopes that by helping these children, she can help them grow into healthy adults and prevent their trauma from continuing.
The children that Mrs. Chan has worked have changed positively as a result of her counseling. They listen respectfully, better than before and are willing to complete their responsibilities. They are more humble, complete their school work and are more forgiving to others. They are more aware of issues in their families and can begin to identify ways of being peace to their families, even if they can’t always identify a specific solution.
Mrs. Chan’s Vision for the Future: Mrs. Chan sees many opportunities for additional trainings in his church and community. Mrs. Chan hopes in his church and village to see more peace in families. She often sees families struggling, even Christian families. She particularly wants to give parents and in-depth understanding of peace. She sees how important it is for children coming out of her program to return to families which reinforce peaceful values. Mrs. Chan hopes to organize trainings with her church and communities on peacebuilding. She sees that this will eventually lead to more holistic community development.
Mr. Chan also hopes to be part of her organization’s efforts to prevent trafficking and child abuse. For now, they are focused on healing and restoration for victims. Long term, she sees opportunities to work on the causes of trafficking.
Social advocate, Kampong Speu Province
Mr. Liv joined Peace Bridges cohort six in 2012 where he learned many new skills to implement in his life and work. In the past, he would react quickly to situations without listening to both parties or understanding the facts. Now he knows the importance of listening carefully and distinguishing between observations and evaluations. Even though people expect him to react immediately to situations, he’s committed to using the Peace Bridges method.
One of Mr. Liv’s biggest changes is trying to avoid assumptions. He shares a story about assumptions of the local authorities:
“I always assumed that the local authorities were bribed when it came to land issues. I assumed the land was sold by the local authorities and I complained bitterly. In fact, the local authorities did sell this land. Still, I had made an assumption without any proof or supporting documents and had been very public in my judgments. I learned that I must observe carefully and collect information well.”
Mr. Liv’s Community: The vulnerable people in Mr. Liv’s community are women and children. Children are often kept out of school to work in the sugar fields. Few go beyond grade three or four. Poor women are also kept working in the sugar fields and often subject to sexual abuse. Mr. Liv observed that when the poor have issues, the local authorities ignore their problems. Poor families tend to have many children, experience domestic violence, struggle with alcoholism and have low education. Often they are landless which prevents them from growing their own food and forces them to constantly migrate. Migration to Thailand is a common problem.
Mr. Liv has seen how poverty often links to negative behaviors that perpetuate poverty. On many evenings, drinking leads to vandalism. Compensation for this vandalism negatively affects those already on the edge of poverty. Domestic violence affects physical and mental health and carries financial implications.
Mr. Liv thinks the biggest community problems are discrimination and a lack of respect or collaboration. This affects both wealthy and poor families. He sees domestic violence as a community issue and would like to start training in this area but lacks resources. Gangs are also an issue among fighting.
Mr. Liv most often communicates with members of the community having problems. They tend to be poor which is the reason they need assistance, particularly around issues of land. Part of his job is to encourage them to confront the authorities when there are injustices. Mr. Liv is their listener, encourager and occasional mediator. He considers these people his main beneficiaries.
Mr. Liv uses his good relationships with authorities and community members to serve as a bridge when problems exist. He particularly works with victims too scared or intimidated by the complex legal system. He helps them file complaints, understand the system and he advocates for them.
Mr. Liv’s Work: Mr. Liv is chair of the commune forestry committee. In the past, he was part of a formalized village development system that has since ended. In 2006, Mr. Liv started his advocacy work. He helps organize village groups. When there are issues, he gathers a representative from each village (a total of five elected community representatives) and they hold an election or conduct advocacy. Mr. Liv has visions of expanding the size and function of the networks. His work falls under the Community Peace Building Network (CPN), a decentralized network of advocates and peacebuilders throughout Cambodia. Mr. Liv is a CPN representative for his province. He is always looking for connections and networking.
Mr. Liv provides trainings to his community on land issues. This is a large issue in their area as a foreign company begins large-scale sugar farming. He encourages people to confront companies taking their land. Mr. Liv has a strong background in legal issues and he uses this with his community. He also coordinates annual events on Human Rights Day (10 December) with support, commitment and contributions from community members.
Mr. Liv considers working on land issues to be extremely important in preventing poverty. He sees collaboration with local authorities important in preventing this problem. His trainings are important to building local capacity for peace. Once people have this knowledge, they can solve issues independently and collaborate with neighboring communities.
Impact of Mr. Liv’s Work: Mr. Liv enjoys using listening skills in his work. This was his favorite lesson and the one he most often shares. He has actively incorporated this message into all his work. When he meets with people struggling with domestic violence or land issues, he incorporates Peace Bridges lessons. He mixes these lessons with his legal knowledge and raises awareness of the legal implications of domestic violence, vandalism and other problems. He uses listening when people come to him with complaints. He uses questions to help people fully explore their problems and he listens empathically. In the past, he would get frustrated by people’s communication styles but now he can kindly draw out their stories. He has incorporated many Peace Bridges lessons into his mediation.
In his work with the commune council and CPN, Mr. Liv has introduced good facilitating and listening skills. Previously, participants fully embraced their right to speak whenever on whatever topic of their choice and their meetings were chaotic and confusing. Now they have well-facilitated discussions. They take turns speaking and listening and together analyze and come to conclusions. These new habits lead to better outcomes.
Combined with his Peace Bridges knowledge and his previous work, Mr. Liv has seen fewer issues with gangs. While he hasn’t conducted formal trainings, he sits with the youth and has informal conversations. He explains general principles of peacebuilding. Mr. Liv has had a harder time with the youth and finds it difficult to change attitudes around alcohol. He’s still working to build trust.
Mr. Liv works with a wide network of volunteers; women, teachers, elders and students. For students coming to measure land as part of a government project to issue land titles, Mr. Liv meets with them and encourages fairness. He teaches them to be peaceful, fair and balanced. The commune council has been impressed with his work with youth and expressed this to Mr. Liv. This was the beginning of the transformation of his relationship with the commune council. Before, they were opposed to each other and hostile but they have since begun to solve issues together.
At the beginning of his work, Mr. Liv didn’t have good relationships with the local authorities. They assumed he was in an opposition group. When he held small meetings, the police would monitor and follow up. Using his new Peace Bridges skills, Mr. Liv has begun to change their relationship. Now they are quite friendly. When they meet together, they shake hands and exchange pleasantries. Now when Mr. Liv wants to hold an event, he doesn’t have to obtain permission. He can call them up and inform them.
Mr. Liv believes that ongoing follow-up and education is important to maintaining his gains. He tries to be direct and practical so people can easily connect the messages he shares to their lives. He feels of all the problems he faces, he can prevent land abuses. He hopes that his long term impact will be greater knowledge in his community, new habits in families and better listening skills.
Mr. Liv’s Vision for the Future: Mr. Liv hopes to build on his previous work and encourage advocacy at the commune and national levels. Recently, he has reduced some of his community advocacy projects. He sees that community members have a better level of understanding and can lead these efforts themselves. Mr. Liv hopes to eventually transition into using the Peace Bridges material to work on issues of domestic violence and families. He would like to move into formal trainings.
Mr. Liv would like to create a youth network and is in the process of starting discussions with village and commune leaders to this end. He feels it’s important to work with youth in order to build a more peaceful future. He has many ideas for campaigns, events, slogans, and sessions to this end. He hopes to include high school students as well as their older peers.
Pastor, Takeo Province
Mr. Sem participated in the Peace Bridges training in 2011. He completed Parts A and C. He resonated with Part C and has built his ministry around the healthy family material. He reported two significant changes in his family as a result of the training:
“Before the training, I continually had problems with my family. I always used violence. I would argue and fight with them. After the training, when I felt angry or wanted to argue, I learned to keep quiet. In these cases, my wife and I don’t speak and we do our independent work. We don’t settle the problem when we are angry. We wait for a few days and we think. When we feel calm, then we start to talk about a solution. If we keep talking when we are angry, the problem won’t be solved.
“A second change in me is that I no longer blame my children. In the past, I blamed my children for my problems and would often criticize them. I would yell at them, “why did you do that? That doesn’t make any sense?” I also did that to my wife. Whenever I did this, I saw they had bitter feelings towards me. This is why I had to stop.”
Mr. Sem’s Community: There are approximately 300 families in Mr. Sem’s village. He considers many different groups of people to be vulnerable such as those too afraid or too proud to ask for help. A common response to fear is alcohol. In the end, men who take this path often use violence and regret their actions. Mr. Sem considers the most vulnerable people to be orphans, people with low education, and men struggling with drug or alcohol abuse. People with known substance abuse problems often face discrimination. Many vulnerable people are cheated by the authorities.
Mr. Sem considers unemployment, a low standard of living, jealousy, mistrust, and low problem solving skills the issues most preventing peace in his community. He sees conflict closely follows alcoholism and gambling. He’s also seen that people with too much free time or men feeling despair over their economic situation often go out drinking with friends which escalates into alcoholism.
Mr. Sem shares a story illustrating conflict and poverty in his area. A couple in their area had problems argued constantly and their child suffered in this environment. The child ended up dropping out of school. The parents were too preoccupied to provide healthy nutrition and this was soon physically evident. The neighbors gossiped endlessly and the child was increasingly stressed and embarrassed. The couple was so engrossed in their problems that it soon affected their mental and physical health. Mr. Sem has great empathy with this family. His own childhood was affected by domestic violence and conflict. He feels able to connect with troubled families and feels passion for helping families grow.
Mr. Sem’s Work: Mr. Sem is a pastor at a local church. He has a small business with his wife selling frogs to support his family. Previous to his Peace Bridges training, his pastoral work was unstructured and reactive. He focused solely on spirituality. Now he’s developed a passion for working with families and peacebuilding and this has redirected his ministry.
Impact of Mr. Sem’s Work: Because Mr. Sem is respected in his community. He estimates that around 90 families including those in his church have heard about peacebuilding from him or someone from his church and continue to share with others. Often people come to ask for his advice. He provides clues to solutions; how to file a legal complaint, providing mediation, parenting or marriage advice, and tips on how to have a discussion without damaging a relationship. Mr. Sem is never concerned about time it takes to talk or the type of family that comes to see him.
After the Peace Bridges’ training, Mr. Sem started a program called “Harmonizing Families.” He provides consultations and mediations to struggling families. These consultations are informal. He goes to find people and chat with them. He asks people to reflect on the difference between families who have violence and those who do not. He often uses his own family as a model and he’s open to discuss changes in his family. Mr. Sem estimates he’s worked in-depth with 20 families since the Peace Bridges training. He also provides informal lessons and trainings to community children.
Mr. Sem tries to work with vulnerable and poorer people in his community. He has some relationships with these families, but admits it could be better. The village chief has encouraged him to shift in this direction and Mr. Sem is looking for the time and money to scale up this work.
Mr. Sem has solved three family conflict with village authorities in three different villages. Ever since, his church has received referrals from the authorities on families in conflict. The authorities are now highly supportive of his church. A direct result from the Peace Bridge training was that Mr. Sem could build good relationship with local authorities, village guards, other pastors and Buddhist leaders who have come to respect him.
When Mr. Sem sees a problem in his community, he goes to listen. Sometimes families will quiet down when they see him, embarrassed by their behavior. He shares that continual arguments are fruitless. It does not change incomes or help children. It’s better to have a discussion and find solutions. At this point, people begin to open up. One woman shared recently that even if she had a discussion with her husband, he had so many problems that make her so angry. Mr. Sem asked the women if she had ever shared her feelings with her husband. The woman replied she had not, but she would try. Mr. Sem encourages people not to ask “why” but instead ask “what do you think.”
Mr. Sem deeply resonated with the idea of avoiding emotionally-based decisions. He’s seen how his own conflicts are often complicated by his emotions. He tries to set time aside to reflect on his feelings in order to clear his mind. Mr. Sem encourages people to think about the results of their actions, and not to simply give into their emotions. He recently practiced this principle at his church. Someone suggested a specific path forward. Mr. Sem probed the man to consider the results from that action and alternative actions based on various scenarios. Together, they were able to talk through their work.
Mr. Sem shared a story of a recent conflict he mediated:
Last month a young man got into a traffic accident with an acquaintance. The other party was furious and laid all the blame on the young man. The conflict escalated and the parents of the two parties became antagonistic. Mr. Sem gave the parties some advice; identify clear evidence and have a face-to-face meeting. He advised the parents to be patient. The victim’s family came to the young man’s family and asked for the young man’s side of the story. The young man’s family shared honestly that the accident was completely unintentional and the victim’s family believed them. They realized the situation had become overblown and were able to reconcile. Mr. Sem believes that if he had not taken action, the problem would have become an even larger argument. Mr. Sem was thankful he know to use probing questions and that he was able to get all the parties to communicate with each other.
A final short story Mr. Sem shared was a women who used to use harsh words to get her family to comply with her demands. Though she’s now old, recently she began to regret this behavior. Slowly she’s begun to change her habits to use kind works to motivate people.
Mr. Sem feels his work benefits the poorer members of his church and community. These people are the most receptive to his messages. Mr. Sem knows his work is valued because many call him “teacher,” a high compliment in Cambodia. He’s seen that in family arguments, women are often willing to admit they are wrong. While most men would never admit this in from of Mr. Sem, he knows that many men do admit to each other their mistakes and accept responsibilities for their role in conflicts. Mr. Sem is delighted that he’s able to positively impact family units for peace.
Mr. Sem’s Vision for the Future: If he had more time, Mr. Sem would like to provide more family counseling. He’s planning training on “women in our community” and has plans for another on men, violence and alcohol. Mr. Sem dreams of expanding and offering more training to village authorities. He also dreams of having a formal place where disputing parties can go to reflect and think through their conflicts. He feels this might help conflicts from escalating at the beginning. Mr. Sem hopes his work with relationships will outlast him. People often compliment his work and he takes this as a good sign. He believes he will always be a peacebuilder. He sees his work as “little raindrops” towards creating peace. Each family he works with will be able to contribute towards peace by making small changes. Eventually these changes will multiply.
Voluntary Chair of Local Christian Women’s Network and Church Leader on the Committee for Community Development at her church, Kampong Tom Province
Mrs. Sokra completed all three of the Peace Bridges trainings over 2010 and 2012. The training gave her more influence and respect in her work. She is highly involved on volunteer work in her community, giving her extensive connections. The training gave her direction in her work. Mrs. Sokra experienced personal changes which positively impact her work, such as being more forgiving with her colleagues.
“Before I learned at Peace Bridges, I was easily angered and I didn’t understand people’s feelings. When my husband and I had conflict, I was quick to punish myself. After I learned about peace, I learned how to forgive myself when I was upset. I learned to forgive myself and to forgive others. I’ve shared with my husband and have seen changes in my family. I am more forgiving of my family now. Now even my husband is involved in my ministry.”
Mrs. Sokra illustrates her continuing change with a story from her family.
Mrs. Sokra’s relatives entrusted her with money for a small potato business. Mrs. Sokra was late buying the potatoes. When her relatives heard about this, they were angry and accused her of poor financial management. They were upset and felt she had betrayed their trust. Mrs. Sokra felt angry and stressed by the situation and this affected the business. The relatives were still angry and finally Mrs. Sokra yelled at them on the phone and turned off her phone so they couldn’t contact her. After keeping quiet for a while, she reflected on her actions and realized both she and the relatives had acted foolishly. Later, her relatives called her to indirectly apologize for the situation. Mrs. Sokra forgave them and apologized for her part in the misunderstanding. Mrs. Sokra is glad that she is now aware of her shortcomings that she knows how to restore relationships.
Mrs. Sokra’s Community: Mrs. Sokra sees a lot of poverty in her work and this shapes her work. She feels the poor are at high risk of domestic violence and being abused by the legal systems. Poor children are at risk of domestic violence and child labor. Mrs. Sokra considers domestic abuse to be one of the largest problems in her community. Often this is caused by alcohol and conflict over money. Gambling and drugs are common. While Mrs. Sokra prides herself as someone who respects everyone’s values, she is upset by violence in families and intervenes whenever possible. She sees a link between poverty and higher rates of domestic violence.
Another issue which Mrs. Sokra laments is when parents keep their children out of school. A woman in her church recently noticed that her daughter wasn’t a strong student. Instead of helping the daughter with her studies or sending her to extra classes, the girl was kept home to work. Mrs. Sokra has noticed that the family no longer comes to church. She has tried speaking to the family but the family no longer comes to church and she’s worried for them. Stories like this illustrate issues in the community which concern Mrs. Sokra.
Mrs. Sokra’s Work: Mrs. Sokra is highly active in her church where she is vice chairperson on their community development committee. She is also a voluntary member of a regional network of Christian women, facilitated by an umbrella group for Cambodian churches. As part of this, she travels to eight villages and four communes. Whenever she is part of this ministry, she mainstreams peace messages into the spiritually content.
Impact of Mrs. Sokra’s Work: Mrs. Sokra has incorporated the lessons of peace into her family and her church. In 2012, her church was mobilized by Peace Bridges who helped provide training on peace. She has conducted peace trainings at her church, the commune village committee, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and to teachers and school directors. She considers the lessons to be highly useful and beneficial for everyone.
Mrs. Sokra teaches a 15 minute class every Sunday. Mrs. Sokra has repeatedly shared the lessons of forgiveness with her church. She has observed that after learning about peace, people relate to the lesson of forgiveness. They are willing to forgive themselves and others and when this happens, the change is evident.
As part of her church’s community development committee, she is treasurer of a project that gives small loans to poor church members to grow vegetables, raise animals and buy rice seed. Mrs. Sokra is firm with families on loan repayments and uses it as an opportunity to teach honesty and financial responsibility as well as sneaking in peacebuilding lessons. She has noticed that the group has better communication with each other and they listen patiently to Mrs. Sokra and others in the church. She sees this as a key way her church can help their community.
Mrs. Sokra focuses on sharing lessons on healthy families. She feels that healthy families and forgiveness were the two most important lessons she learned. She believes focusing on the family will bring the most lasting change. As part of this, she shares with her family and her children. She tries to directly intervene in situations of violence. Mrs. Sokra estimates that since she started the Peace Bridges training in 2010 that she’s provided between 15 and 20 family mediations in her community, including mediations with the village chief’s family. About 10 of these families have made significant enough changes that they rarely struggle with conflict.
Mrs. Sokra tries to hold her family as an example for the community. For this reason she invests significantly in her family as role models for a positive alternative path. She noticed that after the Peace Bridges training and her personal changes that she was more respected in her community.
Mrs. Sokra has a heart for the poor in her area. She teaches others not to look down on them. She helps an old widow in her community by providing food. The woman has no children to care for her and is very sick and lives in terrible conditions. Mrs. Sokra takes her to the doctor and the widow lives with Mrs. Sokra from time to time. She tries to provide spiritual encouragement and peace lessons. Mrs. Sokra also helped find scholarships and support to help three orphans in her community access education. She encourages poor children in her church to attend school and has had some success.
Mrs. Sokra’s Vision for the Future: Mrs. Sokra plans to continue providing trainings in her church and community. Her trainings thus far are not sufficient to build peace and she wants to continue. She sees many more opportunities to build families and develop their skills and knowledge.
Organization director, Kampong Cham
Mr. Bora has experiencing working with various organizations in his area. He learned about peacebuilding in 2006 at his previous position with a Peace Bridges partner. Later he joined Peace Bridges cohort four in 2010 for Part A and B. He was able to learn about peace and make changes in his life.
“In my family growing up, my father educated his children using violence. He only made demands and never listened. My four siblings hated him and I did not call him “father.” We dreamed of the time we would be strong enough to pay him back for all the pain we experienced. My father was like a thorn in my heart. After learning about forgiveness, we began to change our attitudes. It’s easy to talk, to fight, but it’s difficult to forgive. It was difficult for us and for him. Later, we had a mediation to talk with him and to reconcile. I began to learn about my father’s background and realized he was a victim as well. I was able to feel empathy for him. I was able to give forgiveness. If I hadn’t gone through the training, I never would have done this.”
Mr. Bora was later able to make other changes in his life. He learned to control his anger. He learned to critically analyze situations. He learned it was important to practice his values. He allows people he trusts to give him feedback when he strays into healthy behaviors.
Mr. Bora’s Community: Mr. Bora interacts with the poor in his work. While he doesn’t think that poor families have more violence than others, he does see significant conflict. Through a needs assessment when his organization started, he identified community problems with alcoholism, domestic violence, and conflict in families. He considers the most vulnerable people to be children suffering from malnutrition and emotional abuse caused by family conflict.
Many people in his community are farmers or have low-income jobs that make it difficult to support a family. The families he works with have many hidden issues that come to light in his trainings.
At part of his work, Mr. Bora has built relationship with poor people, church members, church leaders, and sub-national authorities such as commune and municipal councils.
Mr. Bora’s Work: Mr. Bora started his own organization in 2012. The project holds several trainings per year on healthy families and later provides extensive follow-up. Mr. Bora uses many of the lessons from Peace Bridges. He has four staff and works exclusively in Kampong Cham. A second project of his organization is working with children who have HIV and malnutrition. His organization partners with several others in the area to provide scholarships to students.
Mr. Bora’s organization works with vulnerable families struggling with alcoholism and conflict. He put together training for 25 families where he used mostly Peace Bridges lessons; shalom, listening, sources of conflict, and forgiveness. Mr. Bora’s work intersects with Peace Bridges healthy family material and he uses many of these lessons.
Impact of Mr. Bora’s Work: Mr. Bora uses listening skills often in his work with struggling families. He feels listening and forgiveness are two of the most valuable lessons that he’s learned. He shares lessons directly to his staff and to families and children who are direct beneficiaries of his organization. He has also shared about peacebuilding with children in his community. His preference is to work with adults but he knows he must try to work with children as well.
Mr. Bora has built his organizational culture on peacebuilding values. He’s found that peacebuilding has many positive implications on their organization; greater loyalty, respect and listening. Every month they have a staff meeting and Mr. Bora will bring a lesson for the group to reflect on. He admits he doesn’t have great experience at leading an organization but he holds these values and wants to share them with others. The result has been a positive work environment. When he struggle with something at work, he knows he can seek advice from Peace Bridges.
Mr. Bora is a respective person as he is asked to help in conflict reconciliation to individuals and to organizations.
Mr. Bora noticed that one family who had attended his training continued to have huge problems. The husband and wife had gone to the commune at least 15 times over the years demanding a divorce. Each time the commune officials suggested the couple try to reconcile. The couple had a lot of verbal conflict and their children suffered from it. The husband would sometimes have fits of rage and destroy household goods. Mr. Bora tried to share about various peacebuilding tools with the family but nothing seemed to help. He started to wonder what he was missing. He guessed maybe the couple had unmet sexual needs. This was a topic he covered in his trainings and he knew was often hidden.
Mr. Bora went to talk to the husband indirectly and though the husband was reluctant to admit anything, Mr. Bora felt his assumptions were correct. He later went to talk to the wife and suggested maybe she could stay with her husband instead of sleeping upstairs with their children. He indirectly shared that maybe the wife wasn’t aware of their needs in this area. Mr. Bora advised the wife to change her routine for a while. If they were still unhappy after that, then he would help with their divorce. The wife agreed to try Mr. Bora’s suggestion.
Without giving anyway his suspicions, Mr. Bora asked his staff to follow up with this family. The staff member learned from the entire family that the husband changed significantly. Much later when Mr. Bora saw the family again, he asked them if they were still interested in a divorce. They answered sheepishly that they were no longer interested. Mr. Bora was glad that he used listening skills, requests and follow up skills.
Mr. Bora shared of another organization case that he recently mediated,
Mr. Bora was asked to help with a conflict at an organization helping primary school children and elders. There was five staff at the organization. The management staff suspected a staff member was pilfering small funds. The management could not agree on how to resolve the situation and asked Mr. Bora help mediate. Mr. Bora listened to each of the staff recount their version of the events. He used neutral questions to avoid bias and withheld his judgment as he collected facts. Mr. Bora didn’t make a final decision about the case himself. He presented all the information to the management so they could make an informed decision themselves. After discussions, they decided to keep the staff member under scrutiny. In fact, they renewed the staff member’s contract and gave the staff member an opportunity to change and improve. Mr. Bora is still following up with the organization. On his most recent visit, the director reported that the staff’s performance was better than before. The director continues to monitor the situation.
Mr. Bora was pleased he had the peacebuilding skills to mediate this case. He used the lessons from Peace Bridges Part B; talked to all parties, paraphrasing, summarizing, withholding judgment and follow up.
Mr. Bora hopes to continue his organization’s activities. He has seen a lot of change in families and individuals. Because of this, he believes by continuing his work, slowly many of these problems will be reduced. He knows that some issues will resurface, but he hopes he can prevent many of these problems from occurring again.
Mr. Bora’s Vision for the Future: Mr. Bora is excited to continue his work with his community. He knows of eight other Peace Bridges peacebuilders working in his province. Together they have substantial networks and connections. They hope to create a consultancy group to improving their organizations and communities. Mr. Bora shared that, “my idea is that although I’ve changed where I work, I won’t give up the lessons because they help people a lot and the lessons encourage me to work for change in places I don’t know.”
Community Peacebuilder Profiles
Mr. In and Mrs. Chhim
Community Peacebuilders (PB1)
Mr. Eing, Primary School Teacher and Pastor
Mrs. Chhim, District Hospital Staff and midwife; Kampong Tom Province
Mr. In and his wife Mrs. Chhim both attended two classes peacebuilding classes at their church. They were mobilized by Mrs. Sok Ra, one of the most active peacebuilders in their commune. They are a Christian family and active in the independent church where Mr. In is pastor. They learned about building peace in their family, community and their church. They also learned about listening and forgiveness. They found the lesson of forgiveness transformative.
Mr. In shared that,
“In the past, I was always angry and didn’t control my anger very well. If I saw a problem, I would start talking without any consideration. I would respond without thinking. I never forgave people. After I studied the Peace Bridges’ lessons, I learned the meaning of forgiveness. It’s an important lesson. Sometime I can’t fix the problem of others. Sometime I just have to let it go. It takes the pressure off me. I changed and I began to take these lessons into my life. Now we think before we respond to issues. I’m more patient now.”
Mr. Chhim shared,
“In the past, I was also an angrier person. I didn’t think before I spoke. After the lessons, I learned how to control my feelings. I learned to forgive myself. I started to incorporate these lessons in my life and family. I noticed my husband was changed too. He no longer tried to punish people if something went wrong or and he no longer placed blame. Now he thinks before he acts. Now my husband and I understand each other. We try to find a balance that works for us and to understand each other’s feelings. When the children make us angry, my husband is good at not responding in anger. We wait till the next day to respond.”
Mr. In share that it’s hard to completely stop all his previous behavior. He still struggles with old habits but he’s improving over time. Mrs. Chhim noticed that the lessons have helped reduced the tension and anxiety that she used to feel. Mr. In is teaching their children the peacebuilding lessons, as well as encouraging them to begin to take ownership and solve their own problems. They are both deeply thankful for the change in their family and eager to share about this change with others.
Their Community: Mr. In and his wife have many connections within her community. As a primary school teacher, Mr. In interacts with many parents in her community, including the poor families. His job also gives him access to some state officers. As the pastor, Mr. In is influential in their church which consists mostly of poorer families in their community.
Mr. In thinks conflict in the family and conflict in the church are the biggest issues his community faces. He hopes to continue strengthening relationships between neighbors and families which to bring more peace to her community.
Both Mr. In and Mrs. Chhim have observed that poverty contributes to conflict for many people in their community. Mrs. Chhim believes that practicing forgiveness will positively affect poor families who will be able to find harmony and joy despite their living circumstances.
Their Work: Mrs. Chhim is a staff at a district hospital and also runs a small midwife business out of their home. Mr. In works with church members and local farmers, sharing the Peace Bridge’ lessons with them. He believes the lessons he learned from Peace Bridges can help to prevent many of the conflicts he encounters. He’s already seen family relationships become loving and peaceful.
Mr. In often interacts with the poor families in the church and specifically shares the peace lessons he learned with them. He works with his church to help the poorer members of their religious community, raising money for emergency medical needs and sharing rice to families who don’t have enough.
Impact of Their Work: Mr. In often shares the Peace Bridges’ lessons with his neighbors. He tells the story of a neighboring family in their community.
Occasionally, they overheard arguments and violence in the home of a neighboring family. Mr. In eventually realized the family was falling apart. Together with church members, he intervened and shared some of the lessons she learned from Peace Bridges. Though it took some time for the family to resolve their issues, the family ultimately reconciled. Now they see peace, happiness and good communication in that family. The family now respects the church, even though this family isn’t Christian.
Both Mrs Chhim and Mr. In were delighted to see the change in this family. Mrs. Chhim pointed out that previously they would not have know how to work with this family, but now they have the knowledge and lessons to intervene in similar situations. Both Mr. In and Mrs. Chhim now counsels neighborhood families on nonviolence, forgiveness and problem solving skills.
Mr. In has noticed change in his church as well. He often preaches the lesson of forgiveness. He’s seen church members motivated to use problem solving skills.
Mr. In shared examples of people in the church who have also experienced transformation. One couple was struggling with anger, yet after learning about forgiveness, were able reconcile and change. In another case, together with church members, they intervened and encouraged a church member to give up his mistress and return home to support his family. Numerous times, the church has supported struggling families when illness plunged them towards the edge of poverty. He’s also helps intervene when church members have conflicts.
Their Vision for the Future: Both Mr. In and Mrs. Chhim are passionate about working with the family and are passionate about the transforming power of forgiveness and sharing this message. They hope to continue building more relationships with more neighbors so that she can share messages of peace, and make her community more peaceful. They hope their peacebuilder will educate them further so that they’ll be more equipped to work with their community.
Village Assistant and pre-school teacher, Svey Rieng
Mrs. Keut was mobilized by a peacebuilder just over three months ago. The peacebuilder who’s also a pastor provided a class at a church in her community. She learned about general peace lessons, nonviolence, as well as listening. She shared that before the training, she struggled with her temper and would be easily angered. The peacebuilding lessons helped her relax and become more patient. She learned to analyze when people speak in order to determine its validity. She also learned to listen before she speaks.
Mrs. Keut reports that she applied these lessons to her family. She realized that she was causing many of the problems in her family. She decided to try and be more patient with her family. She now encourages others that when they have problems, they should practice patience.
She shared about the changes within her marriage as a result of the training:
“I’m often very busy with my job. I don’t have time to help my husband in his business. He raises pigs and cows. My husband understands and he supports my work. Still, in the past, when he’s tired he could get angry with me. He would often complain that I didn’t help him or do enough housework. I used to get angry at him and yell back. After the training, I decided to be patient with him and use kind words. I explained to him that because of my job, we have a salary. We have to learn to be patient with each other in our work. I respond positively when I do this.”
Mrs Keut’s Community: As a member of the village authorities, Mrs. Keut is closely connected to the village chief in her community. She reports that there is still great poverty in her community. The poorer families live in terrible conditions, their children are out of school, and the men often migrate for work. She teaches many of these poor children at her school. She’s noticed that both rich and poor families in her community have conflict and that many conflicts are fueled by alcohol.
Mrs Keut’s Work: Mrs. Keut works as a voluntary preschool teacher at a local school. She’s also the “village assistant” under the village chief. Because of this position, she’s connected with all the families in her communities. As women, she’s able to build connections with other women in her community who might feel uncomfortable speaking to the chief about violence in their homes.
Impacts of Mrs. Keut’s Work: Mrs. Keut has noticed that more people come and speak to her about their problems. Mrs. Keut hopes to become more active in her community and learn more about peace so she can help them further. She views herself as a role model and prioritizes transforming herself and her family.
Mrs. Keut has recently counseling a woman in her neighborhood struggling with an abusive and alcoholic husband. After talking to Mrs. Keut, the wife slowly began to curse her husband a little less. Recently the husband contracted TB and his doctor advised him to stop drinking. As a result much of the violence in the family was reduced. Mrs. Keut knows she only played a small part, but she was happy to be able to help this family. She is still good friends with the family and hopes for even more changes.
Mrs. Keut’s Vision for the Future
Mrs. Keut shared her perspective that “if we want peace, we have to be patient and respectful of one another.” She hopes to continue learning from her peacebuilder and building her knowledge of peace. After working with her neighbor, she’s now willing to provide informal mediation to others and she hopes there are opportunities for this.
Community Peacebuilder (PB1)
NGO Staff and teacher at a Christian School, Tekeo Province
Mr. Pang was mobilized in during training for teachers at his school. The peacebuilder organized this mobilization attended Peace Bridges in 2011, and is a pastor at his church and part-time cook at the school. In the training, Mr. Pang learned about shalom, nonviolence, listening, and observation vs. evaluation. Before the training, Mr. Pang reported that, “I did whatever I wanted to do and I didn’t listen to anybody. I was quick to judge and never forgave.”
Since the training, Mr. Pang has worked to transform his relationships with his family and at his work,
“I have applied so many points including listening and careful observation before evaluation. I show love when I talk to people. Even though they get angry with me, I know that when they see my love and forgiveness. Even though they still do the same negative things, one day maybe they will understand my points about peace and change. I must be understanding and forgiving. This must start from me, even when others committed mistakes and even if they’re proud. I used to be proud but I know it’s possible to change. I hope others can change too.”
Mr. Pang’s Community: In his community, Mr. Pang has relationships and connections with the village chief, his students and their parents, staff at the school, and pastors at his church. From his observation, the rich often look down on the poor in his community. Mr. Pang teaches his students that by studying hard they can overcome their poverty.
Poverty is a problem in his community. Most students drop out of school at sixth grade when they are considered old enough to work. When girls reach 16-years-old, they are sent to work at the garment factories in Phnom Penh. Boys find jobs doing manual labor. Even for families that aren’t poor, they often prefer to keep their children at home to work. Orphans don’t attend school. Often students will graduate to the next grade even if they are unable to keep up. If they’re forced to repeat a grade, students feel so embarrassed they drop out of school. In order to keep them in school, teachers allow students to grade to the next grade which creates problems for teachers and students alike.
Mr. Pang’s Work: Mr. Pang works part-time as a teacher. His school prioritizes helping poor children get an education and provides classes for the students who need extra attention. Mr. Pang is committed to preventing children from dropping out of school. Part of his strategy is connecting with parents and emphasizing the importance of their children’s education as well as the importance of avoiding violence at home. He knows he must have parental support if the next generation is to have a better future. He encourages parents when their children excel in school.
The conflicts where Mr. Pang most often intervenes occur at his school. He still breaks up fights between children. He uses these situations as opportunities to teach the lessons he’s learned from Peace Bridges.
Impacts of Mr. Pang’s Work: Mr. Pang has noticed that since the Peace Bridges training when the teachers tried to implement the changes, students come to school more regularly. Children who were behind are catching up and he’s discovered many are very bright. He speaks to his students individually about the importance of school, motivating them to care about their education.
Mr. Pang believes that peace starts from himself. He strives to be a role model for his students. Previously, he would try to exercise power over his class and used harsh language to get their attention. Now he’s learned new ways. He motivates his students through brainstorms and idea sharing. He carefully practices listening skills and empathy in order to connect with the children better. He coaches them to think about the consequences of their actions and has found that unlike before, now they listen to him. He’s seen many of his students improve at school and home. As a result of his listening skills, his students are open with him about their problems. They respond to him positively and their interest, grades and school attendance has improved. He’s noticed when they play football together after school, there is far less conflict than before.
Mr. Pang has also worked to build trust and peace with other teachers at the school. In the past, his colleagues were frequently frustrated, impatient and gossiped about each other. Over time, they’ve built better working relationships with each other. All the teachers incorporate lessons they learned from Peace Bridges into their classes. Most specifically at the school, the principal has learned to practice respect, love, impartiality, and forgiveness with his staff. The change is so apparent that teachers respect him to his face and when he’s absent.
The changes in the teachers have trickled down to the students. Students are more trusting and loving towards their teachers. Students sometimes bring gifts to their teachers and the teachers use little gifts as rewards for students who study hard.
Some of Mr. Pang’s students are now doing so well academically that it has positively affected their relationships with their parents. For one student, his parents used to beat him regularly but when they saw his studies improving, they began smiling and demonstrating more love to him.
Mr. Pang shared a story about working with these youth.
“One day, some students told me that one of my students Chan went to play football. Chan has many problems. His mother often beats him. I’ve tried to work with him before. When I heard he skipped school to play football, I went to find him during a break. I saw him playing football but I didn’t say anything to him. When he came to school the next day I asked him why he skipped school. Chan told me he was sick. I told him that I saw him playing football. I told him, “You won’t gain anything from playing football. In football, you win one day and lose the next day but if you come to class you, will win forever. Think about how if you have an education you can get a good job. You can get a good job like working for a nonprofit organization and earn a good salary. You can even have land and a big house. But for people without education, you will only fall further into poverty.” This motivated him to pay more attention to his education.”
Mr. Pang’s Vision for Change: Mr. Pang hopes that by changing himself and his family, that through better education, that through better relationships, together they can progress towards better development. He will continue to train people in listening skills, forgiveness and anger management. Long-term, he would like to become a counselor in his community. He’s committed to continue demonstrating the lessons he learned to his students and other teachers.
Community Peacebuilder (PB1)
Pastor, Prey Veng Province
Mr. Sao is a pastor. He’s unmarried and is the second child in a family of eight. He’s a participant in a long-term Peace Bridges mobilization project during which he learned multiple key lessons; shalom, nonviolent communication, listening, nonviolence and forgiveness. Through this experience, he learned to love and find peace serving God.
“Because of the training, I have a good new attitude. Before, I believed in Jesus but I didn’t really experience peace. Through Peace Bridges, I learned about peace from God and how to practice that peace. I realized that the peace from our God contributes to society and to the community.”
Mr. Sao’s Community: Mr. Sao is in close contact with many of the poor families in his community. He’s noticed there are two types of poverty; financial and mental. He’s noticed a lot of disharmony is his community, even within the wealthier families. The people most at risk in his community are widows and children, particularly those with low education. He strives to work with this target group.
Mr. Sao’s Work: Mr. Sao’s church consists mostly of poorer community members. He reports that some wealthier families also attend. He trains the older parents in his church as well as youth. He feels that since the training, he’s found he’s gifted at teaching, encouragement and keeping an eye on his community.
Impact of Mr. Sao’s Work: Mr. Sao has specifically shared the message of shalom with his church and community members. He reports seeing change in 30% to 40% of his church members after they learned the lesson of shalom. He’s seen these people practicing these new peaceful values. He believes the entire community has received some benefit from his work. He uses his church as the platform for spreading messages to his village. He peaches the Gospel but he also preaches about peacebuilding.
Mr. Sao works with many poor families in his church. He’s shared many of the Peace Bridges lessons. He encourages them to work on their attitudes for peace, their listening skills, and their family harmony. He helps them understand that a united and respectful family will have less domestic violence and arguments which will contribute to a higher standard of living long-term.
Mr. Sao admits he finds it easier to work with families who are only financially challenged. He has a harder time working with community members with low critical thinking skills. He feels these people are the most vulnerable. With the later group, Mr. Sao tries to use the peace lessons to boost their critical thinking skills. He encourages them not to be passive. He reminds them they are intelligent and can improve their families. Once families begin to work together better, he believes addressing their financial poverty will be easier. He encourages them to feel a sense of responsibility for their actions and their families.
He’s found that the lessons have many benefits, specifically listening which leads to a reduction in domestic violence. He believes the greatest risk to his community is simply bad communication. The inability to commutate clear messages between two people or groups easily leads to trouble in the community, church and family.
Mr. Sao illustrates this with a story from his own family.
His sister was in a troubled marriage. The couple had many problems and their relationship evolved into daily complaints and fighting. They brought the stress of their lives and jobs into the marriage and couldn’t communicate with each other. After Mr. Sao shared with them about listening, they realized the severity of their miscommunication. They realized the need to listen carefully if they were going to build a healthy family.
He shares another story of a couple in his church.
The wife was a Christian and the husband was not. The husband was a heavy drinker and often beat his wife. The couple argued constantly and the children were upset by the family turmoil. When Mr. Sao heard of this, he went and shared the Peace Bridges lessons with them. Over time, the family began to change and their lives improved. Eventually, the husband and children also became Christians.
A final story Mr. Sao shared was about an ongoing conflict in a village near him.
In a neighboring church two small groups were in conflict. This caused huge tensions in the church. Mr. Sao shared with these two groups the message of shalom, reminded them to find unity in the church and shared that without inner peace, peace with each other was difficult. He continued to work with the church and eventually the two fractions were able to better understand each other. Eventually, he hopes for complete transformation in the future.
Mr. Sao knows it’s challenging to completely change his community. Still he believes the messages of peace that he shares can help people have a better standard of living. To him, this means not only improved their finances, but also reducing violence at home.
Mr. Sao’s Vision for the Future: Mr. Sao hopes to continue building peace in his commune, church and in himself. Because he experienced such change from the lessons, he knows that he’ll carry them far into the future. He hopes to continue contributing to his community’s development. He wants his community to have peace in their hearts and minds and also experience peace from God.
Community Peacebuilder (PB1)
Lay-Pastor, Prey Veng Province
Mr. Soken learned about peacebuilding in March 2012. A peacebuilder who was also a pastor provided several training in his church. Mr. Soken learned about listening skills and nonviolence.
“Because of the training, I pay more attention to listening before I speak. I get angry less easily. In the past, I got angry quickly and would say harsh things very quickly. I plan to live my life peacefully with my family, to help my children love each other, to love my wife and to have happiness. Compared to before, now we have close relationships.
“In the past, I had a lot of friends and I had a problem with alcohol. I would stay out very late with them, drinking, gambling and finding prostitutes. It caused a lot of conflict with my family. When I became a Christian, I changed much of my behavior but I still struggled. After the Peace Bridges training, I realized how my habits were terrible for my family. I was motivated to change even more, and also reduced my smoking. I believe in God and I have the tools from Peace Bridges. I’ve been able to change my life 180 degrees. I changed step-by-step and cut off bad habits. It’s peaceful around me. My old friends respect me. Now that I have changed in the right direction, I have new friends. People around me have learned from my example.”
As his family has changed, they are increasingly supportive of his work. Mr. Soken now has better relationships with community members. He’s better at listening to problems and reducing tensions and emotions when mediating.
Mr. Soken’s Community: In Mr. Soken’s community, most families are headed by men. Most of these men struggle with alcoholism and gambling, returning home late at night where they often physically abuse their wives and children. Many of his community problems are rooted in alcoholism. The community is largely poor with few special skills or resources. A Cambodian organization recently provided housing to many of the poor families in his community which has improved their living conditions. Mr. Soken notices many of the poor families struggle with financial management and the children drop out of school. He counsels them regularly to take more initiative. He’s observed many conflicts are rooted in unemployment.
Mr. Soken is wary of strangers who come to his village bringing bad habits. One example of this is gangs who bring in drugs. This concern is shared by the local authorities who have begun to take more initiative in this area. Mr. Soken considers this essential to preventing new problems and protecting community children.
Mr. Soken’s Work: Mr. Soken is active in his church. He serves as a lay pastor, cell group leader and point-person for older church members.
He has started recently working with a nearby community of 20 families that was evicted from their slum dwellings. They have low education levels and lots of conflict and Mr. Soken hopes to help them work through some of their problems. He’s seen a desire to learn in this community and hopes to fulfill it.
Impact of Mr. Soken’s Work: After learning from the peacebuilder, Mr. Soken immediately shared his knowledge. He held a small training in his community of 25 families. He saw positive results. The two pastors who attended stopped their drinking and domestic violence. With others, he’s seen less conflict and a greater sense of community, respect and forgiveness.
Previously, the families in the village didn’t interact much and found themselves constantly misunderstanding and feuding with each other. Mr. Soken feels that after the training, his community began progressing forward. More children are in school and parents are more engaged in their children’s education. He’s seen less domestic violence. He’s confident people have the knowledge and skills to solve problems competently and prevent problems from reoccurring. He sees his village as the main beneficiaries of his ministry and is proud of their changes and the peace they are creating for themselves and their children.
Mr. Soken still finds ways to work with his community. He estimates that about 80% of the friends, neighbors and church members he has shared with have changed some bad habit. He has a small group that meets weekly to talk about peacebuilding. Another group of church members meet each Sunday to discuss their changes and plans for the future. He now has the skills to conduct small group discussions and identify problems. He has also begun to do some counseling, mainly marriage counseling. He’s working to cut down on the drugs coming into his village, and tries to counsel the various poor families on their options for improvement.
Mr. Soken’s Vision of the Future: Mr. Soken hopes to stay in his community and continue working with them. He wants his community to have good habits, strong rules, respect for each other, and healthy role models. He hopes to provide more in-depth training and sees many opportunities for this. A nearby community also needs help after land evictions and he hopes to work with them.
In the future, Mr. Soken hopes to develop good things for his children, society and social progress. He has seen much bitterness and suffering. He doesn’t want his children to travel the same path. He hopes to collaborate more with teachers to work with youth in order to set them on a positive path for the future.
Community Peacebuilder (PB1)
“Village Member” and Church Volunteer, Kampong Speu Province
Mrs. Sos is married with four children and lives in a rural village. Her husband is a farmer and makes palm sugar and palm alcohol, which is known as a humble job with little income. She learned about peacebuilding from a Peace Bridges’ Peacebuilder serving as a pastor who held several trainings at his church in 2011. She learned about peaceful families, listening skills, putting down weapons, and anger management. Mrs. Sos experienced significant change in her family as a result of the sessions.
“Before my husband was a very bad tempered person. Everyone knew this about him. Even when there wasn’t conflict, he would create a conflict and get angry with me. I used to be a nasty person too and when my husband was angry with me, I would get angry back. He would challenge me and I would challenge him back. He would hit me and threaten to divorce me. I didn’t want to get divorced because we have children. This would happen almost every day. It really upset our children.
“After the training, he still tried to get into arguments with me. I asked him, ‘why are you like this? I don’t want our family to have violence!’ He replied that whenever women go to trainings, they come back and want to control their husbands. I told him, ‘I don’t want to control you but it’s time to stop the violence! Our children are older and they will feel ashamed of you and be embarrassed!’ I pointed out to him that other families in the community had less violence then our family. Once he realized this, he started to think. After my efforts to teach him about the peace lessons, step by step, there was less violence in our family. Now when we have a conflict, we talk using words and we don’t use violence. We work to control our tempers.”
Mrs. Sos has more peace in her family. Her children are relieved and happy to see their parents working together to reconcile. The children are now all in school and getting a good education. She shared that, “now when my husband and I have conflict, he reminds me to put down my weapons and I remind him to put down his as well.”
Her Community: Mrs. Sos reports that domestic violence is the largest problem in her community. The village chief rarely involves himself in these cases. She’s noticed how domestic violence often affects the education of children involved. These children would fall behind in school and lose all motivation. Since Mrs. Sos can’t read or write, this reality concerns her. Like Mrs. Sos, her community isn’t highly educated and illiteracy is high. For this reason, a radio program discouraging domestic violence is also helpful because anyone can tune in.
Her Work: Mrs. Sos is works as a “village member,” a member of the village authority under the village chief and the village chief’s assistance. She also volunteers on a value-based community development council at a local church. Mrs. Sos uses her position of authority to speak to other families about the lessons she learned and how her family has overcome their use of violence. When people come to talk to her, she tells them about the Peace Bridges lessons, about healthy families, forgiveness, and putting down weapons. She teaches them when they have conflict with their spouses they must put down their weapons; avoid violence, use words, and find humor. She challenges other families to think about violence in their own homes. There are other radio programs about domestic violence sponsored by another organization which reinforces the lessons she has shared. She doesn’t push other families or gossip about then. Instead, she tries to simply speak about her own story. Her church provides a meeting place once a month to discuss these issues.
Her Impact: Mrs. Sos reports that through a combination of her efforts and the radio programs, there is far less conflict and domestic violence. The families she knows have far more forgiveness and understanding. The families in the houses next to her are also peaceful and she never hears violence. Mrs. Sos is most proud of her own family’s transformation. She’s proud of how her community is working on the issue of domestic violence and how even the uneducated village members have a better understanding of these issues. She feels her community has processed and developed since they started addressing this problem. She reports that she even knows of a family in another village who only heard a little about the Peace Bridges lessons but they’ve changed their behavior as well.
Visions for the future: Mrs. Sos wants to see her entire community living peacefully completely free of all violence. She wishes that village leadership will consistently take an active role in stopping violence. She wants her children to have a better and more educated future.
Community Peacebuilder (PB1)
Community Staff with local organization, Siem Reap Province
Mr. Vannara works for a small Cambodian organization. At this organization, a Peace Bridges peacebuilder in a leadership position held training for everyone at the organization. This was Mr. Vannara’s first exposure to peacebuilding. As a result of the training, he reports that he’s now a more patient person than before. One example is that instead of shouting at his children or grandchildren, he takes time to explain things and educate them.
Mr. Vannara’s Community: As part of his work, Mr. Vannara is well connected in his community. He’s also respected as an older person. Because of his work, he interacts significantly with students, parents and the local authorities.
He reports that in his community overall, there is low education levels and many people have never attended school. Often children drop out of school to work. He encounters situations of domestic violence and alcoholism. Many community members lack good health and hygiene practices. He reports that the most vulnerable in his community are divorced women, those struggling with poor health, large families, and people living with HIV/AIDS. These vulnerable groups are most at risk for domestic violence. Mr. Vannara often sees how poverty often leads to family conflict.
Mr. Vannara’s Work: As a field staff with a local organization, Mr. Vannara works with students and their parents. He teaches students about health, hygiene and agriculture, later conducting follow-up with them. He follows up with children who have dropped out of school to encourage them reenroll. He also helps locate health services outside the community for health care emergency. Sometimes he even attends commune or village meetings. He admits that it can be a struggle to work with communities with such low education, but the Peace Bridges lessons have helped him become more patient in his work.
Impact of Mr. Vannara’s Work: Mr. Vannara has used his communication skills from Peace Bridges to help him connect with community members. He’s noticed how he has better relationships with community members. When he teaches students about health and hygiene, he uses his new skills to connect with them and make them feel valued. He’s noticed that people have responded well to him. People now share their problems with him and even ask for his input and assistance. He sees this as a valuable way of contributing to the social issues his community faces. He’s counseled frustrated farmers, engaged couples and children in gangs. He also tries to keep track of the children he teaches and interact with their parents to ensure the health and hygiene lessons make it back to their homes. He often visits them at their homes. Because of such close relationships, he’s able to see changes.
As part of his Peace Bridges’ learning, Mr. Vannara has learned the importance of being patient and forgiving with people. He’s learned not to expect immediate change but to work with people step-by-step as they change their old health and hygiene habits.
Mr. Vannara also feels that he’s able to be more flexible with people. He does more follow-up and probes into issues he sees in his community. When he notices children out of school, he’ll follow up. When he sees poor families picking up trash for a living, he tries to understand their specific situations and think of ways to help them. When he sees something wrong, he tries intervening immediately. He shares one example of a domestic violence where the wife was harmed. He quickly helped her to a clinic and then went to find the husband and gave him a serious talk about his behavior.
Occasionally, Mr. Vannara will encounter situations of violence in his work. Now when he sees this, he counsels the parties to control their anger. He advises that when people encounter outbursts of rage, it’s better to simply walk away instead of staying and creating problems that will negatively affect their health, relationships, children and even financial well-being. He encourages them not to resolve conflicts when they are angry. Many people have responded positively to this message.
Mr. Sao thinks that by improving the health, hygiene and income for poor families, many conflicts in his community can be prevented. Alongside this, he promotes patience and forgiveness and keeps an eye on smaller issues before they become large conflicts.
Mr. Vannara’s Vision of the Future: Over the next 10 years, Mr. Vannara hopes to continue educating children in his community. He knows that eventually, he won’t be able to be so involved in his community and that they will need to take an active role in their own change and development. He wants his teach his children to be upstanding members of society.
Long term, Mr. Vannara would like to see family strengthened and community members able to resolve their own problems in a peaceful manner. He hopes for jobs and better incomes for people. Finally, he would like to work more with parents and students to encourage them to prioritize education.
Community Peacebuilder (PB1)
Organization staff and counselor, Battambang Province
Mrs. Siev works alongside Peace Bridges peacebuilder Mrs. Chan at an organization to help abused and trafficked children. Mrs. Siev learned about peacebuilding in several peacebuilding sessions that Mrs. Chan and Peace Bridges jointly held at their workplace. These sessions are ongoing, part of a Peace Bridges mobilization project.
Mr. Siev shared about the changes she made in her life,
“Before the Peace Bridges training, I was selfish and cared about myself first. Afterwards, I began to use listening to understand people. I was most affected by the lesson of forgiveness. In the past, I would say that I forgave someone but I didn’t in my heart. I learned from the Peace Bridges sessions that God can change our hearts to forgive people. We follow Jesus’ model. Now I adhere to Jesus’ model and changed my life. I learned to see that even small problems can become big problems and so we must resolve them all.”
“One example of my change is in my family. My husband and I both serve God in our work. My husband brings me to my work every day and then goes to his own work. If I leave work early, I have to call him to pick me up. Sometimes he couldn’t come at that time and would come later. Sometimes he would have to work late and so he picked me up later. I didn’t care. I would get angry. I wanted him to pick me up right away. Once I learned about listening my selfishness began to change. I learned to identify my husband’s feelings. I started to learn more about my husband’s work and how he serves God. If I insisted my work was most important, I would hurt my husband and harm the trust between us. Now when he tells me about his work, I listen to understand his needs. I’ve shared the Peace Bridges training to him.”
Mrs. Siev’s Community: Mrs. Siev and Mrs. Chan share communities and circles of influence. The poor in Mrs. Siev’s community are those experiencing domestic violence, sexual abuse and those ignored by the authorities. She sees dysfunction in families and this concerns her; domestic abuse between spouses and conflict between siblings. She considers this to be a main reason why children runaway and are subsequently abused and trafficked. These children later find themselves in the center where she works. Dishonest employment agencies promise poor families that their children can earn high salaries if they go to Thailand for work. Families sometimes take these offers, only to learn later their children have been trafficked into prostitution or slave labor.
Mrs. Siev’s Work: Mrs. Siev has worked at her organization almost four years. Like Mrs. Chan, she focuses on providing counseling to children coming out of abuse and trafficking. She teaches small groups of children with seven to ten children. She holds these sessions once a week for an hour. She collaborates closely with her colleagues on the various children in their care. She also interacts with parents in order to facilitate a peaceful return home for affected children. Mrs. Siev values her work because she knows without her organization these troubled children would likely never receive assistance and grow into troubled adults.
Impact of Mrs. Siev’s Work: One of Mrs. Siev’s favorite lessons is listening. She learned to use listening to identify needs and feelings and understand people better. She feels far more equipped to do her work well and connect with her troubled clients. She considers the children at her center to be the main beneficiaries of her work, as well as their parents.
Prior to the Peace Bridges’ training, Mrs. Siev primarily used Biblical advice in her counseling sessions. She often used to the opportunity to evangelize and would focus on only teaching Biblical principles. After the Peace Bridges’ training, she began to incorporate lessons of forgiveness and listening. She began to teach how Jesus was a role model for peace. She began to incorporate messages of self-worth to help children see their own value.
Mrs. Siev selected the lessons of forgiveness and listening based on the needs she saw. She observed that the children struggle with anger and use violence to resolve problems between them. Since then, she has tried to develop patience and forgiveness within them. When she sees children struggling, she talks to them specifically about their feelings and how they can work through these issues and choose healthy outcomes.
Since the training, Mrs. Siev was impressed by the importance of also serving as a role model. She doesn’t want to simply talk about peace. She realized she needed to let peace start with her and spread outwards to her family and community. She has worked to make this a reality.
Mrs. Siev has begun to see results from her work. Many of the children use kinder words with each other. She thinks to a specific child who exhibited many problems. He couldn’t behave in class, didn’t listen to his teachers and they were concerned that he would join a gang or get into trouble with the law. Mrs. Siev has worked with this child and has begun to see changes. Another child had trouble with another student and when he tried to reconcile with the other student, the other student insulted him. The child came to Mrs. Siev with his troubles and Mrs. Siev helped him understand the importance of listening, but also the need to forgive and let things go.
There have also been changes in Mrs. Siev’s community. With a neighbor family, she shared her story and about listening to each other. This family slowly reduced using violence at home. In Mrs. Siev’s office, her colleagues have changed their language to be constructive and helpful and through listening skills, they argue less.
Mrs. Siev also uses the Peace Bridges lessons when she interacts with parents. Often problems are not seen on the surface. Mrs. Siev uses listening to identify issues in families. She also uses her new communication skills to connect and encourage families to develop healthy habits.
Mrs. Siev hopes that working with these children and integrating them back into society as healthy young adults will lead to long-term peace in their community. She hopes that their families will place a role in this. Mrs. Siev tries to provide education to families and parents so that the children will hear positive messages from various different sources. She shares that many parents are impressed by their children’s changes and react positively to message of peace.
Mrs. Siev’s Vision for the Future: Mrs. Siev feels that peacebuilding starts from personal transformation. She hopes to continue changing herself and keep sharing with others through her actions. She hopes to use words to positively influence others and teach small groups of two to three people. She hopes that with some assistance, she can hold a larger training with her communities. She’s glad to work at the children’s center and hopes to continue helping children.
Community Peacebuilder (PB1)
Organization Staff, Kampong Cham Province
Ms. Sarom learned about peacebuilding at her previously job at Sunrise. Sunrise is one of Peace Bridges oldest partners. Peace Bridges has provided multiple mobilization projects. Ms. Sarom has since changed her place of work, but she still practices the lessons she learned at Sunrise. The lessons she enjoyed the most were self-care and self-compassion, forgiveness, reframing, and healthy communication. Listening and observations vs. evaluation are two of the lessons she uses the most often. Ms. Sarom was also deeply impressed by self-compassion lesson and this is her favorite lesson to share with others.
After learning about peace, Ms. Sarom became a far less critical person. In the past, she couldn’t see anything special in other people. She struggled to love the children in her care. She was often unreasonable and disrespectful. She would speak to her parents with disrespect. After learning about peace, she learned to see the value in others. She began to that her anger was only creating problems for herself. Ms. Sarom worked to cultivate a soft and gentle voice when interacting with others.
“In the past when I had problems, I would often blame my mother and get into an argument with her. Of course, we always want to blame our parents for our problems. It was the same for me. Actually, the things I blamed her for were my own problems. It only made me angrier. Now I know everything was a mistake. I apologized to my mother and now I use a kind voice with her.”
Ms. Sarom has worked hard with her family feels they are more united and peaceful than previously. She regularly shares about peacebuilding with them and has seen many changes. Previously, she had a strained relationship with her younger sister. She would insult and disrespect her younger sister but after learning about peace, she changed her behavior and now they are friendly. Ms. Sarom saw the importance of applying forgiveness, compassion and encouragement in her family relationships.
Ms. Sarom’s Community: Ms. Sarom feels that the children her organization helps are extremely vulnerable in their community. Many are forced to live with their grandparents because they have no other options. They are susceptible to chronic illnesses. Both adults and children with HIV face severe stigma. The poorest families in his community are landless or homeless.
Ms. Sarom has seen that poverty leads to many nutrition problems. This negatively affects child education. Children often drop out of school to farm or for menial labor. Conflict follows closely behind for families who struggle to feed themselves. Ms. Sarom has seen this occur repeatedly, including with a family who lives in the smallest house in the community. The family doesn’t have land for farming. The man often goes out to drink and comes home to abuse his family. Ms. Sarom thinks desperation over their poverty leads to stress and conflict.
There are other problems in her community, such as mistrust and intolerance. Ms. Sarom knows she can begin to address some of these issues, but it will take time and effort. She enjoys communicating with people at the Catholic Church in her area and admires their patience and generosity.
Mr. Sarom’s Work: Ms. Sarom works for a child rights organization. She provides child care to young children in the program who are HIV positive. She often mediates between children in conflict and their families.
Ms. Sarom works at the same organization as peacebuilder Mr. Bora. Previously when she was employed at Sunrise, she had a similar position providing child care to children affected by HIV and other chronic illnesses.
Impact of Ms. Sarom’s Work: One of the most significant changes in Ms. Sorom after the training was her ability to love the HIV positive children she cares for. Socially, these children are stigmatized and rejected and Mrs. Sarom used to unintentionally share these sentiments. She realized that they didn’t respond to her angry behavior. She learned to stop ignoring them and see their self-worth and value. She learned to give them her full attention, compassion, empathy and love. Now they respect and obey her and fight less with each other. Ms. Sarom feels that the children are the main beneficiaries of her peace knowledge.
Ms. Sarom has shared about peacebuilding with her colleagues. One colleague was struggling with personal problems and Ms. Sarom counseled and encouraged him to value himself and his work.
Ms. Sarom has also shared about peacebuilding with his family and shared two stories about these changes.
In Ms. Sarom’s family, her younger brother often skipped school. The brother was unhelpful and would conveniently go on walks when housework needs to be done. After Ms. Sarom learned about peacebuilding, she tried to help her brother. Her work is ongoing but she has seen small improvements already. The brother is in school more and is overall more attentive. Ms. Sarom has used the lessons of self-compassion and self-worth when she shares with her brother.
Ms. Sarom’s older sister struggled with self-confidence. Whenever she had a quarrel with her boyfriend, the sister assumed all the blame. The sister would be so distraught that she wouldn’t eat or sleep. She was more concerned about her boyfriend than caring for herself. Whenever she felt tension in her other relationships, she would respond similarly. Ms. Sarom shared lessons about forgiveness and self-compassion with her sister. She counseled her that she also had value as a person. The sister responded well and began to make changes. Now when she encounters a problem, she knows that it’s not always a problem with her. She knows to provide compassion with herself and she’s now objective and self-confident.
Ms. Sarom also shared about peacebuilding with a community member. Ms. Sarom and her elder sister noticed a man in their community had drinking problems which lead to violence in his home. Ms. Sarom and his sister talked to this man about his problem and about peacebuilding and the man was very receptive. Now the man rarely drinks or fights with his wife. The family is healthier, solves their problems together and listens more. Ms. Sarom also shared about compassion and forgiveness to a couple in her church with a troubled marriage.
Ms. Sarom believes she is preventing small problems from growing into bigger problems. She hopes long-term, larger problems will never occur.
Ms. Sarom’s Vision for the Future: Ms. Sarom hopes in the future to see more family happiness. She hopes that her organization can develop further and that the children grow in love and respect. Ms. Sarom believes that peace begins with her and the people she knows.
Community Peacebuilder (PB1)
Voluntary pastor, Tekeo Province
Mr. Phin lives with his only child in Tekeo province. He is a voluntary lay pastor at a church plant. He lives at the church where he has a small garden. Between the garden and church offerings and gifts, he is able to support himself.
Mr. Phin learned about peace from a peacebuilder in his church networks. The most memorable lesson he gained was about listening. He practices this lesson in his church and his community. He also learned about reconciliation. A final memorable lesson was the importance of first changing himself and his attitudes before he tried to tell others to change. This is a lesson which particularly impacted his work. Mr. Phin has high respect for his peacebuilder, Mr. S. who is a also pastor in the area. He continues to stay in touch with Mr. S. and has deep appreciation for Mr. S.’s personal changes and dedication to peace. Mr. Phin hopes to model the counseling and listening that he observed in Mr. S.
Mr. Phin’s Community: Within his church, Mr. Phin has excellent relationships. Because the village is small, they all live in close proximity. He has relationships with the community elders, monks, Buddhist leaders, the village chief, the neighborhood watch, and the police. Many of Mr. Phin’s friends are teachers. The three youth who assist Mr. Phin at the church often keep him updated on community news.
Youth are a problem in his community, often fighting and stirring up trouble. Mr. Phin has decent relationships with them and hopes to eventually influence them for peace. In his community, there are typical family issues and divorce, but nominal domestic violence. There are five female-headed households in his church who Mr. Phin identifies as poor and vulnerable. The poor families are those who are unemployed, disabled and chronically sick people, widows and old people. Some people go to garment factories in the cities for work.
Mr. Phin’s Work: Mr. Phin is the pastor of a small church plant. He hopes eventually the group will grow into a full church. As part of the church’s ministry, he teaches English to children and youth in the community.
Impact of Mr. Phin’s Work: Mr. Phin feels that he truly benefited from the peace training. As a leader, he regularly works with people. People constantly come to the church looking for help with their problems. He’s noticed that often people simply feel better after he’s listened to them. They feel understood and accepted despite their problems.
In the past, Mr. Phin told people how to fix their problems. Sometimes his experience influenced his opinion. Sometimes he invented a solution on the spot. Often his advice was completely unsolicited. In all cases, he would instruct church or community members to comply with his solution. After the training, he changed his style. Now he listens. Instead of offering advice, he asks questions. By using questions, he believes that people can think through the problems themselves and choose a positive solution for themselves. He’s more open to discussions now.
The new changes in Mr. Phin hugely affect his work as a church leader. Several times he has heard church members comment on his significant change from before. He felt validated and happy with these comments. They told him he’s a better leader, not operating like a dictator as previously. Mr. Phin has noticed that by sharing about peacebuilding with families in his church, they begin to change. He’s noticed that several families have less conflict. They are more articulate in their communication. The three youth leaders who he works with have demonstrated the most change. They now have much happier families.
Mr. Phin believes that one of the best contributions he can make to his community is to provide good counseling. He wants to help families find solutions to their problems. Mr. Phin feels that he finally has the tools to begin to do this well.
Mr. Phin recently mediated a conflict with a family in his village.
There was a family consisting of a widow mother, four unmarried daughters, one married daughter, and a son-in-law all living together in the same house. Another daughter and son-in-law lived further away in Takhmao.
The married daughter living at home initiated a conflict which quickly escalated. Eventually, the married daughter kicked her mother and four sisters out of the home. Because of the tension, the mother felt unable to return home. She went to find Mr. Phin and explained the situation, begging for his advice. Using his peacebuilding skills, Mr. Phin asked the widow what she thought she should do. The widow thought about it for a while. She still didn’t feel she could go home. She thought about going to stay with her daughter in Takhmao. Upon reflection, she realized there was no assurance that the family conflict would not follow her there. She wanted to stay at the church, but Mr. Phin informed her that this wasn’t allowed. After a while, the widow concluded she would live in the tiny old house behind her old home. She could live there and sell vegetables for a living.
The widow followed through with this plan. Eventually, Mr. Phin facilitated a meeting between the married daughter and the widow and they were able to reconcile. They have a healthy relationship now but to avoid further conflicts, the widow decided to continue living in the tiny old house. The married daughter and son-in-law honored this decision and decided to help repair the tiny house for their mother. Once the house is repaired, the unmarried daughters plan to move in with their mother. Mr. Phin was extremely encouraged by the situation. He was glad that he used listening and questioning skills as well as option generation. He will continue to use these tools in his work.
Mr. Phin’s Vision for the Future: Mr. Phin has many ideas for peacebuilding in his community. He hopes to collaborate with his peacebuilder and provide multiple short peace trainings for his church and communities. Thinking 10 years into the future, hopes his family, community and his church will become more peaceful and forgiving, instead of harming their relationships. Through love and God’s grace they will grow in peace with each other.