Enabling Transformational Change Through Community Social Work

Tuesday 4 April 2017

Leav Yab is a 40 year old farmer living in Orang Ov district, Tboung Khmum province. Yab recalls how, in the past, she used to use violence against her own family. She would become angry and frustrated when her sons did not listen to her: “I only wanted my children and my husband to follow my instructions. I only wanted to do a good thing,” Yab explains, with a rueful smile. “But I could not control my anger. My youngest son, who is six years old, told me that he was afraid of me. After hearing those words from the tongue of my own child, I was very remorseful.” Thanks to the support from Save the Children and its partners, she has now changed her behavior.


With funding support from NORAD, in 2015 Save the Children and its partners Phnom Srey Organization for Development and Social Services of Cambodia started working closely with the local Commune Committee for Women and Children to recruit volunteers to help set up basic local child protection systems in Yab’s village. The village chief encouraged Yab to apply, but she was hesitant. As the the sixth of seven children, born in the dark years of the Khmer Rouge regime, Yab’s family had almost nothing. She dropped out of school at a young age to help her family work on their farm. She did not have any prior experience, and furthermore she felt ashamed of her past behavior.

“I wanted to apply but I was not sure I could pass and do this job,” she explained. “But my village chief explained how important it is to do this work. How it  benefits not just my family, but the whole community, and others who are in the same situation. So I decided to apply.”

She got the job and she was trained by Save the Children and partner staff to be a village volunteer. “At first it was very difficult for me, as I had never attended any training before,” she explained. “But I worked hard by changing my behavior with my family first.” She underwent 15 days of training, from December 2015 to February 2015. She never missed a session, because she understood that each stage was important and interlinked, so she had to take care in her studies. In March 2016, Yab graduated as a qualified para-professional Community Social Worker.

Through her support for other women and children in the village who have experienced domestic abuse, Yab soon came to have a clearer understanding of her relationship with her own family. She started to consciously treat her son and husband with more care and affection, and only use good words to address them. Her own experience has given her a strong empathy for others who experience domestic violence. “My husband and son listen to me and love me,” says Yab. “Not only them, but my neighbors also appreciate my work.”

Yab now manages the cases of children who have experienced domestic violence to provide them support and counselling. “To be good village volunteer, I have to be a good example for my villagers,” Yab continues. “They come to me if they have problem with their parents or children as they trust me.

“I feel very happy, and proud of not only myself, but my family,” smiles Yab. “They have given me the strength and commitment to do this work. I feel committed to doing anything I can to make sure the children in my community live in a warm, safe home environment.”