My Problems, My Solutions
Through its partner Phare Ponleu Selpak, Oxfam supported a group of 12 women living in a poor communities, helping them to learn how to use art performance to promote the inclusion of the most vulnerable living in the poor communities in Battambang. Photo: Oxfam
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Through its partner Phare Ponleu Selpak, Oxfam supported a group of 12 women living in a poor community, helping them learn to use art performance to promote the inclusion of the most vulnerable living in slum areas in Battambang.
Drugs, gambling, domestic violence… The performance of "My Problems, My Solutions”, by the Battambang Theatre Group, depicts the most common issues faced in the home communities of the 12 women on stage.
"Before being part of this project, these group of women were the most marginalized in their community. They had no job, went on begging for daily living," said Chhit Chanphireak, Program Manager from Phare Ponleu Selpak. “We consulted them and trained them to use theatre as a tool to build confidence and speak out. Now they are not afraid of sharing their problems anymore. By talking things out and becoming aware of their own problems, they realised they were able to find solutions to address them."
Raise one’s voice, making it heard
Mom is 29 years old and pregnant with her fourth child. "The gambling scene is inspired from my life. I was a gambler and my husband was a drinker. We used to send our kids out to beg on the streets and we have no job. I joined the Battambang Theatre Group a bit by chance and now I really enjoy performing. I feel more confident. Plus, I get some money from the program while performing. This helps improve my life". Mom and her husband are now both working at small jobs and have stopped sending their kids out to beg in the streets. "We feel more responsible for supporting our family as parents. It helped us think about our problem and made us ashamed of our behaviour."
The Voice program aims to empower for behavioural change and improve the living standards of the most marginalized and discriminated group using innovative ideas. The informal theatre group from Battambang is one among the others. When performing in the communities, members of the audience are asked to volunteer on stage after the performance to trigger interactions.
"The performance is good because it shows real issues happening right now and can help people to find solutions. I want to support this kind of performance, and I am especially interested as the persons targeted come from province’’, said Sophay, a University of Fine Arts student in the audience during a show in Phnom Penh.
Through the project the women were also provided with agriculture skills to have a small additional income. Map, 44 years old and a mother of five children, was a victim of domestic violence. ‘’I decided to join as it is the story of my life and depicts the issues I am facing. My husband is a motorcycle taxi driver and he was always violent on me ; he didn’t want me to work outside the house. Thanks to the program, I learned how a lot from this and also use of my team to grow vegetables and raise chickens to improve my livelihood.’’
Four months after the end of the funding, the women are still performing.
Sokha Srey, Oxfam’s Voice Grant and Partnership Specialist said “This is a very nice surprise and one of the success stories of this project. The women said they want to continue and apply for the second round of Voice grants so that we can continue our engagement and learn more experience. We are so happy to see them able to move forward.”
Map (a lady standing), 44 years old and a mother of five children. Photo: Oxfam