Cambodia 2017 Site Visits: Disturbing yet hopeful about partners’ work

This was my third trip with Pangea to Cambodia and I was again humbled by the warmth and hospitality of the Cambodian people. On this trip, there were four other Pangea travelers: Allan Paulson, Mary Williamson, Audrey Shiffman and Mari Loria. It was their first Pangea trip to Cambodia so I felt like the old hand.              ~Catherine Roth

To view photos from the Cambodia 2017 Site Visits

During this visit we were able to meet with other NGO foundations that have extensive experience and the ability to give large grants. Their insights were educational and helpful. Throughout our visit, we heard about the government’s new law regarding NGOs. It has created a great deal of uncertainty among local activists.,

When I first visited Cambodia in January 2013 the Cambodian people were excited about the upcoming elections. Political signs for both parties, the ruling party and the opposition party, were everywhere. I felt the people believed that a chance for a real democracy was possible. The ruling party claimed victory.

In November 2014 I again visited Cambodia with Pangea. I really did not notice anything different in meeting with our grantees. Walt Adam and I visited two villages with Women Peacemakers and were extremely impressed with their work. There was very little talk about the government.

This year my impression was very different. The people expressed concern about the future. A famous independent journalist was killed execution style in broad daylight in June 2016. Previously four land rights activists were jailed. In 2016 a new NGO law was passed that requires, among other restrictions, registration, permission from the government, and frequent reporting. Thus, it is not clear how our grantees may be affected in the future.


Participants at a Pangea supported workshop on domestic violence show messages of respect for women.

Despite the government changes, our grantees and other NGOs we visited are continuing to do incredible and meaningful work. Women Peacemakers, a 3-year grantee, has always worked with government officials and village leaders when working with communities regarding women’s rights and domestic violence issues. To get a good sense of the powerful work they do, please view the video below.

Our other Cambodian partner, Foundation for Cambodian Development (FCD), continues to train village members in leadership skills in three high-need areas, and support their efforts to organize community projects that improve livelihoods.

I am filled with hope given the great work that is continuing to be done by our grantees, but also with trepidation about the future.  ~ Catherine Roth