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Banteay Srey 2018

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The Banteay Srey Project is dedicated to expanding the choices available to Cambodian women who are vulnerable to the consequences of inter-generational trauma, violence, exploitation, lack of education and lifelong poverty. The Project provides a safe environment for young women to heal and learn marketable skills while earning a fair wage.

3The young women who come to Banteay Srey are highly motivated to provide a better life for their families, and they work hard to achieve this vision. Mornings are spent studying spa techniques, hospitality, customer service and English. In the afternoons and evenings the trainees put what they learn into practice working at the Banteay Srey spa and café. As trainees acquire more skills, they earn more income and have the opportunity to advance within the organization or to be mentored in starting their own small business.

All profits generated from the spa and café go directly to funding the vocational program, supporting 10 to 15 trainees at any given time. After years of refining this social enterprise model, the Project is moving closer toward its goal of financial sustainability. Yet the real success of this program is the emergence of an environment that nurtures not only professional development but also personal healing. The achievements of these young women over a short period of time are often remarkable and always inspiring. (Read some of our stories in the Updates section!) Trainees and staff acting together to help each other is an important source of strength, and it is from this basis that the Childcare Project has been launched.

4Childcare Campaign

By far the greatest source of anxiety for program participants is their children. How well are they being looked after? Is it a safe environment? Are they being fed during the day? These young mothers know all too well what it is like to grow up in circumstances of abuse and hunger, and they are desperate not to repeat the cycle.

This is where you can help these women help themselves. Donations and onsite volunteers are needed to implement a child care and education plan cooperatively designed by the women at Banteay Srey. It will ensure that their children will be able to live with their mothers and receive quality care while they are at work. The children will have a nutritious lunch and snacks and be able to engage in stimulating educational activities and play throughout the day. Each mother will have one paid day a week assisting at the Centre allowing her to spend time with all the children, learn about child development, and practice compassionate parenting methods.

CamBs-3The Banteay Srey Project will provide:

  • Locate a house to rent near to where the mothers work at Banteay Srey;
  • Provide labour for house improvements and playground construction; and
  • Manage the Centre, staff and volunteer program

What we still need:

  • An estimated $4500 for construction and operating expenses, which include salary for a cook/cleaner, food, supplies, rent and utilities; and,
  • Overseas volunteers to work at the Centre, teach English and facilitate educational activities for the children.

Last year we received enough funding to allow us to get started on the project. (See the Updates section.)  Your donation today will help 11 children of trainees have a safe place to learn and grow in 2017.

Or volunteer by contacting Freya Metz at banteaysreyproject@gmail.com .

Find out more at banteaysreyproject.org or on Facebook

My name is Freya Metz. I am a visionary, a feminist, an entrepreneur, a passionate humanitarian and environmentalist.

I first visited Cambodia in 2007 with my Khmer sisters who escaped Phnom Penh in 1975 and were adopted into my family just days before the Khmer Rouge invaded the capital. The arrival of my infant twin sisters into my 10-year-old life sparked a deep interest in the welfare of the Khmer people. My sisters returned home to Canada as planned after our trip but I changed my ticket and stayed on to develop a social enterprise for New Futures Orphanage in Takeo and start learning the Khmer language.

I have had diverse life experiences that contributed to my growing vision of the unique project that is Banteay Srey today. Those experiences include a childhood spent in Japan, developing and running a successful restaurant in Canada, seeking a healthier lifestyle studying and practising massage, as well as personal explorations into a great variety of paths towards healing.

Since that first visit I have learned a great deal about Cambodia and serving effectively in a culture and economy so different from my own. I moved full time to Kampot in 2010 and immediately began developing the Banteay Srey Project. My vision was a project that would serve trafficked victims. I was drawn in by media stories about sex trafficking in Cambodia and wanted to help Khmer girls who had suffered such extreme trauma. It took some time to realize that helping was not easily accomplished and that the situation was not as the media portrayed. I found that the trafficking shelters I was networking with did not actually house trafficked girls. I redirected my focus to sex workers but found very few who were willing to participate in my fledgling project.

After 2 years of fieldwork and outreach I began to understand that the problems facing Khmer women were much broader than I had initially realized, and that my efforts would be more effective if I focused on trauma prevention. I did not have to look far as I found that many Khmer women were at imminent risk. Exploitation and abuse were common in marriage as well as in the workplace. Young women of Cambodia today were raised by survivors of the Khmer Rouge in homes fraught with severe post-traumatic stress. In 2012 I began to transition my efforts with Banteay Srey Project to work with ordinary impoverished village women who were struggling and seeking better employment opportunities. Though the trainees at Banteay Srey are not chosen specifically for a traumatic background, all are struggling with the effects.

The profoundly nurturing and safe work environment at Banteay Srey was inspired by my own path of healing from childhood trauma and sexual abuse. I drew from my own successes with embodied therapies such as yoga and bodywork. Together with the input of Khmer women and the efforts of many skilled volunteers I developed a comprehensive spa training program that is very supportive to personal growth. The program offers women a special place to heal while simultaneously providing training and employment.

All the paths I’ve walked in life have lead me to this place and this project. My spoken Khmer has developed to a point where my days are filled with enlightening conversation with Khmer people from all walks of life. I’ve sold my restaurant in Canada and have opened a tiny eco-resort to sustain myself financially in Cambodia. I am supported by exceptional women who believe in my vision enough to travel across the planet to volunteer at Banteay Srey. Everyday I am filled with gratitude to have such fulfilling work. I find much joy in witnessing Khmer women grow and blossom into their own empowerment.

Contact Freya at: banteaysreyproject@gmail.com

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