SIEM REAP — In Cambodia, while there have been some improvements since the genocide and subsequent famine of the late 1970s under the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot regime, economic inequality is high, gender inequality is normalized, and poverty is rampant throughout the nation. Rachna Satrei, a local non-governmental organization (NGO), is trying to change that.
Located in the city of Siem Reap, this small organization is situated less than five miles from the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, for which the city is most well known. Now 10 years old, the NGO is run out of the house of its founder and director, Phoungmaly Nhean, and has made a difference for thousands of people in Siem Reap province.
Despite growing up in a rural village, Nhean has been able to fulfill her dream to help others, particularly women and children, in Cambodia. The following is an edited transcript of an interview with the founder of Rachna Satrei.
Borgen Project: Tell us about yourself.
Phoungmaly Nhean: What I want to share with you is my story of success in life. From 1996 to 1999, I was a volunteer with the Internal Women Organization in Siem Reap. From 1999 to 2005, I was a female officer at a trade union, where I was a finance officer with a private company. With this money, I was able to found Rachna Satrei and serve as an Executive Director. I’ve spent the past ten years working in senior management and leadership in the nonprofit sector. I also serve as the coordinator of the Coordination Non-Governmental Organization Network in Siem Reap, which has 148 member organizations that work at the sub-national and national levels. The Coordination Non-Government Organization Network works to promote good governance, democracy, and acting advocacy for civil society. I am also one of the initiators of the Self-Reliance for NGOs Network in Siem Reap.
I also hold a master’s degree in General Management and Accounting from a local university; my areas of expertise include, organizational development, gender, capacity development and community development.
BP: What made you interested in starting an NGO?
PN: That is my dream: to work for social and women’s empowerment. Throughout my life, I trusted myself in that I could start and run an NGO even without funding to support the activities. I used my own money to start up for running the NGO. During this time, I saw a lot of challenges in women’s issues and few women in politics. Now, my dream is to be a politician leader.
BP: What are the focuses of your NGO?
PN: Rachna Satrei has four main program categories: Education and Technical Training Programs, Environment and Climate Change Programs, Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Programs, and Economic Development Programs.
BP: What do you wish people knew about Cambodia?
PN: I wish people knew about Cambodia’s history, culture, economy, women’s and children’s issues, environment and human rights in Cambodia.
To get involved with Rachna Satrei, or to learn more, check out the organization on their website and on Facebook.