Prak Sokhany – Cambodia

inked with Applied Conflict Transformation Studies ACTS.

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

Prak Sokhany (born 1958) has channeled her life and work into peace building and conflict resolution in Cambodia, where people are still traumatized by the wounds of war. For nearly ten years, she and her organization, Australian Catholic Relief (ACR), with its allies in peace work, have trained NGO workers, government officials and entire communities in conflict resolution and peace building. Prak works with the grassroots, designs training programs, facilitating training and networking with numerous institutions. Prak Sokhany has dedicated her life to making a better, more peaceful world where people work together to create a civil society and collaborate to solve problems that cause violence. After surviving the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, Sokhany had to deal with the reality of Cambodian society after the Khmer Rouge era, where people have lost trust in each other and violence continues to wreak havoc on their culture and daily life … // … She says: “Perhaps the deep wounds of the war are impossible to erase. Perhaps we can only come to understand it better,” says Sokhany. But she has kept her hopes up and this is what motivates her in her work for a “better world”. “Humanity can be healed and evolve only through peace building and solidarity of the community,” she says … (On 1000peacewomen 1/2).

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Prak Sokhany – Cambodia

She works for the Australian Catholic Relief ACR, (named on hotfrog, and on AYAD Assignements). She is part of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia CCC with its NGO Good Practice Project NGO GPP, also find her on Google Book-search and on Google Blog-search.

… The first peace building dictionary in English – Khmer were introduced by the centre for Peace and Development Cambodia Development Resource Institute by Ok Serei Sopheak and David Wharton with Meas Savath, Chea Mouy Kry, Kep Kanaro, Prak Sokhany and Thorng Kakada … (full text).

MDG 3 – Promoting Gender equality and Empowering Women: Ms Prak Sokhany was one of the 1,000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She is also the Programs Advisor for Caritas Australia ’s partner in Cambodia . Ms Prak believes that “the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) cannot be seen as individual goals. They are all interconnected. Gender equality and empowering women are a requirement of every goal. We cannot achieve the goals in isolation.” The MDGs are something that many people strive to achieve, and it is through an integrated approach that this is being done effectively. It is not possible, as Ms Sokhany says, to achieve these goals in isolation, we need to see all of the MDGs as something to strive for and achieve in collaboration. (on Refugee Camps – Women and Children at Risk).

Appeal for Peace Of the Cambodian civil society groups on the armed clash between the Cambodian and Thai troops near Preah Vihear Temple, 16 October 2008 … (full text). For more information:

  • Ms. Prak Sokhany, member of the Working Group on Peace, 012 940 851;
  • Mr. Cheang Sokha, Executive Director, Youth Resource Development Program, 012 360 464;
  • Ms. Chan Sona, Executive Director of Women Peace Makers, 012 568 479.

On 1000peacewomen 2/2: … In 1998, after undergoing formal training in conflict resolution and peace building, Sokhany formed a volunteer group to train the municipal officers in Phnom Penh in conflict resolution. The group also developed the training curriculum. They then networked with regional organizations and evolved into the Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT). ACT gets strong support from the Malaysia-based Southeast Asia for Conflict Studies Network. Sokhany has since become a volunteer member of the executive committee of ACT.

When the corrupt judicial system failed to convince the public that it was an effective institution to resolve conflict, Sokhany and ACT began training NGOs to facilitate conflict resolution at the local level, so that people don’t have to pay bribes to get their way through the courts. Poverty is a severe enough problem, and the Cambodian people cannot afford to pay bribes to buy their way out of conflict, says Sokhany.

There is, however, more to it than just saving money and time, she says. “Through the conflict resolution process at the local level, people learn about reconciliation and forgiveness in order to reach a satisfactory resolution.”

Sokhany also engages in peace building and conflict resolution because she wants to address the issue of poverty. Peace building, she believes, can bring the community together in a partnership to make their lives more productive, and to make a more viable future for their children. Organization building is the key word to make this happen, she says. After learning about the model known as Johary’s window, which describes the process of human interaction, Sokhany realized that conflict does not happen only because of hatred or violence; it can be caused by small issues that bring about confrontation.

The training programs that she provides focus on how to change the participants’ own behavior in problem solving, and on the strategies to make those changes. “Participants acknowledged they often made mistakes, that they dominated conflict resolution process and threatened the two parties in conflict if they failed to reach a resolution. Now they have knowledge and skills. They have learned to ask each party in the conflict to speak out their problems and identify the conflict’s root causes. A dialogue can then be facilitated for the resolution of the conflict,” says Sokhany.

In 2002, Sokhany co-authored the training manual, “Peace Building Lexicon”. This yearlong project was conducted for the Center for Peace and Development. Since January 2004, with funds from the American Friend Service Committee, ACT has conducted research on ethnic conflict. Sokhany has often been invited to regional and international meetings to share her experience on conflict resolution and its various aspects. She also attends or organizes workshops on this issue. She also used to work as a translator and polling officer during the general election in Cambodia in 1993 sponsored by the United Nations.

With two children to raise and her parents to take care of, Sokhany manages to find the energy to fulfill the commitment she has imposed on herself to work on peace building which, she believes, is the only way to help people heal their wounds and build trust so that a peaceful society is possible.

Sokhany is also inspired by the success stories that she has seen at the local level, of conflicts being resolved, of the commitment of NGOs and villagers, and the gradual sustainability of communities as a consequence of the peace building process. All these give her the courage and determination to continue.

Besides, Sokhany says that there are not many women in Cambodia who have peace building and conflict resolution skills, so she wants to be the role model and trainer of women who want to be actively involved in leading the people toward a peaceful society.

“We still have many problems with domestic violence, human rights violations, gender inequality and specially freedom of speech. This is because the leaders are still fighting for power,” she acknowledges.

She has not lost hope, however. She believes her work is to sow the seeds for the next generations to follow.

“Even though people are facing problems in terms of peace building and reconciliation, I strongly hope that in the future, gradually, people will learn from each other through dialogue, working together to develop the country, and reconciliation. By forgiving and forgetting the past, they can start building a peaceful society and develop human resources so that we are able to support each other for a better life,” she says. (1000peacewomen).

links:

Caritas Australia: empowering women;

Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, Report on the second workshop on “Strengthening Provincial NGO Networks in Cambodia”, November 22-23, 2004, Supported by International Land Coalition, 18 pdf-pages;

Minutes of Workshop on Strategies for Peace and Non-Violent Actions in Cambodia, at the World Vision center, May 28-29 (year not mentionned!);

Dissemination Workshop of A Study into Exploitative Labour Brokerage Practices in Cambodia, Cambodiana Hotel, 16 March, 2007, 9 pdf-pages;

Summary of the evaluation-report Promoting the establishment of a cadastral system in Cambodia, 8 pdf-pages;

Agreement on Guidelines for Practices and Cooperation between the Relevant Government Institutions and Victim Support Agencies In Cases of Human Trafficking;

e-Kmer BlogReader.

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