Hundreds of people gathered at Factory Phnom Penh on Sunday to celebrate Cambodia’s diversity as part of the Berk Chet Festival, which was also held in Battambang last week.
Oxfam was a partner of the festival, which brought together vulnerable groups. Oxfam said that the achievements on display in the program reflect the organization and Impact Hub Phnom Penh’s past efforts to promote and increase opportunities for vulnerable groups with minority voices.
Berk Chet celebrates increased awareness of the diversity and inclusiveness among the five rightsholder groups of people with disabilities, LGBTIQ, women who are subject to violence or exploitation, the elderly and vulnerable youth, and indigenous groups and ethnic minorities.
Oxfam said groups are often discriminated against but they can use innovative and context-based approaches to raise their voice and encourage full participation in better decision-making in the community and a diverse and environmentally-friendly society.
In a statement, Oxfam said, "In order to achieve results that meet our needs, it must start from us for all of us, 'Nothing About Us, without Us!"
Oxfam added that through this program, which has been implemented since 2021, it has selected and supported funds for seven groups and representatives of vulnerable groups to implement innovative ideas that promote a social environment. “As you can see, each booth at the Open House event is a testament to the achievements of the seven groups,” it stated.
In addition to this project, Oxfam has supported about 20 other partner organizations, representing vulnerable groups with minority voices and discriminated groups, working to increase their voice and be good representatives in the decision-making process in their communities and society.
Oxfam said, “I believe the program was very exciting and important for each team that has worked hard to implement the project in the past to create new results, lessons, experiences and learning as they showcase the achievements in the event.”
The organization added, “I would like to congratulate the teams and partner organizations for their great achievements, which reflect the great transformation of each team. Please continue this great work to increase the chances of presenting the needs and voices of a group that is often overlooked to ensure that their problems are heard and answered.”
Hok Sovanvotey, a 28-year-old manufacturer of women's fabrics, joined the Berk Chet Festival and told Kiripost that it promotes products that are made by groups of people with disabilities collected from different provinces while also promoting local businesses.
Sovanvotey's Green Lady Cambodia sells washable pads and menstrual cups. She says these products are cost-saving, environmentally friendly, and provide jobs to women.
"This is women's pad and on top of it is cotton, we make this replacing women's pads made by plastic," Sovanvotey said. "This saves money, environment and help women who sew this," she added.
Nhim Sorida, founder of Boran Care, a business from Banteay Meanchey province, joined the Berk Chet Festival. Boran Care sells soap, shampoo, and sprays made with local extracts.
"Our products are made with natural raw materials, which are safe and effective for consumers," Sorida told Kiripost. "Using local raw materials is also sustainable, as we don't have to pay for transportation."
Sorida said she was happy to spend time at the Berk Chet Festival, which brought together people from different places who shared the same goal of promoting local businesses.
Oxfam said it will continue to collaborate and work with relevant partners, as well as national and international institutions, to promote and support the most vulnerable and discriminated against groups so that they have access to resources for increased productivity. It concluded that groups will be able to better represent the decision-making process in the community and society as a whole.
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