The new Country Representative of CWS Cambodia, Isaree Khreusirikul, writes about her experience during an environmental sanitation workshop carried out by the CWS WASH Training Resource Centre. WASH stands for water, sanitation and hygiene.
I assumed my position as Country Representative of CWS Cambodia in the beginning of July and since then, my schedule has been filled with introductions to the different offices and CWS staff as well as the work that CWS is carrying out in Cambodia. Last week, I had the pleasant opportunity to observe an environmental sanitation workshop in Kampong Chhnang conducted by our WASH Training Resource Centre. I must say that I was deeply impressed from what I observed.
After the workshop I had the opportunity to talk to six of the participants in the workshop (three men and three women). All of them told me that they worked for health NGOs – and that they worked directly with the communities that they serve. Common for all the participants was that they had received training from the CWS WASH TRC before and it was due to their previous experience from these trainings that they had wanted to join this workshop as well.
I was told that all of the participants had previously received training from their own NGOs or the Cambodian government about WASH. Their previous trainings had mainly or fully been theoretical – and in some case they had only been given reading materials. The training from CWS includes a lot of hands-on experience and this is something that all of the participants deeply acknowledged the importance of.
Even though they had previously learned the theoretical aspects of a subject, getting the real hands-on experience offered by CWS had made them feel more confident when carrying out their work. This becomes even more important when considering subjects like community health promotion, something that the participants of this workshop can now apply with confidence to their work.
Another topic that I had the pleasure of discussing with the participants of the workshop was the sustainability of the training. Here it became apparent for me how quickly and intensely the training is spread: Some of the participants convey their knowledge to people in their local communities every day, every week! This turns our “small” six-person workshop into the centre of a ripple effect, which quickly ensures that knowledge is spread to as many people as possible.
When asked about what we could do to make the training even more sustainable and transfer even more knowledge to the communities, I received a number of ideas. A remarkable suggestion was to organise forums with villagers and village health volunteers to discuss issues every quarter, which would not only get people in the communities together, but also give a great insight to some of the issues or challenges that people face – with the benefit of getting people more involved in the discussions and problem solving in their own communities.
For me, there is no doubt that the CWS WASH TRC is doing some very unique and extremely valuable work and as the new Country Representative for CWS in Cambodia, I look forward to supporting their work and ensuring that the knowledge that they teach becomes even more sustainable!
Isaree Khreusirikul is the CWS Country Representative in Cambodia