Journey that never ends

Journey that never ends
Sapa trekking

Sunday, February 11, 2018

One Billion Rising 2018: Solidarity, Rise! Resist! Unity!

It was through a song i have heard too many a times that drawn me back to  recall its origin.  when it was composed, by the then a former colleague of mine, the song described the feeling a daughter had toward a mother who suffered regular violence from the husband; the experience of being taken out of the school to join the many women garment factory workers to earn income to support the family; the harsh working condition women workers faced (and continue to face these days) under poor working environment and vulnerable working condition and often abusive and violent; the many vicious cycle of violence that as woman growing up in this society, face on the daily basis. 

Song performed @ One Billion Rising 2018
by The Messenger Band. Video by author.

The artistic way that the song was performed, depicting the trauma as victim of violence push away and yet it pulls back upon them, haunting them from time to time - The Messenger Band revitalises that powerful memory once again. 

There were many more stories being re-told through role play, songs,  discussion, and questions and discussion among some 300 audience - many of whom are youth from universities and social workers -  of the event at Chenla Theatre. However, there is something I was hoping to get featured during the afternoon. I wanted to share it but by all means this reflection could reach few readers who bother to spare their time for the note.

We have more than enough means to know and hear firsthand experiences of the cause of violence, the consequence of it at individual, family, community and as society and the cost it takes to fix the hole in the victim head and heart throughout their lives.

The audience discussed how change needs to take place systematically, individually, collectively; how law and regulation needs to be passed to prevent alcohol consumption; how patriarchal system rooted in Cambodian society needed to be uproots and every woman be recognised as a human being; how the victim shall get access to counselling services and psycho-social support and network from friends, family, community…. The list could go on…

I am not arguing that those lists are not important, of course they are… but as a participant at this very event, I would like to see how we take the experiences back home and how we could put it into practices.

For change starts with one step, one action, one determination

If we truly believe in change that we hope to see, how do we then see ourselves in the context and as actor of change?

If we were to be in the position of the perpetrator who raped the disabled girl, would we took a different action knowing the end result that this criminal act cause such adverse impact on a person’s life…

Will a declaration by a man – perceived as good man and - which got too much attention and recognition - be the solution… maybe?

Will the government passing the law preventing alcohol (sell? Consumption?) be the solution to curb the root cause of violence… maybe?

Or is alcohol truly the root cause of violence happening in our society…? As the MC/moderators pushed back, there are other men who drink but don’t commit violence….  

And how will we suggest the many other laws, covenants, CEDAW, treaty that Cambodia has passed and been a signatory to could be truly enforced to seek justice for the victim, whether it is the woman, man or child victim of violence?

If we could take one moment, to put ourselves in the position of the victim, the mother, the father, the grandmother and societal members whose the story features their flaw and what they could have done… what action will we take to mend the wrong to be the right?

And that is the question that I hope the audience take home as a key ask, that their individual action is truly powerful to change the situation to be better, to contribute to eliminate violence against women, girls, children and any other person in society.

The One Billion Rising Performance featured at least four times during the afternoon,
each time with a few more dozen dancers joining it.
Photo by author - 11 February 2018

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Change starts with ourselves and our action

Today as part of the two-and-half-day long training on Regional Energy and Advocacy training, the participants - which comprised nationalities from Thailand, China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Japan, Australia - visited the Thammasat University Rangsit campus. This is the second campus of the University that focuses on Renewable and Sustainable energy program. I like to share some highlights from the visit and my impression of the effort of the university.

Interestingly, The University slogan is: “Thammasat University Where We Learn to Love People.” I cannot deny that this is pretty impressive slogan. One would need to get a glimpse of background as to how this university starts and who are the professors running the university how and their roles in the students revolution in Thailand - better known as Thammasat University Massacre -  in the 1970s. I was a student from a known university in Australian where our slogan is: Dream Large.

The university vice rector, Arjan Prinya, met and greeted the students as well as spent an hour long to happily answer any of the question we have about their effort. They have shown us a video clip ( ) about the effort to go Smart City implements by the university to reduce the dependency on the grid energy and source the electricity from the solar panel system installed at the rooftop if the faculty building.

The display of the solar panel in font of the faculty. The Yellow bikes are everywhere in the campus where students and faculty staff could use to move around the different part of the campus. The use of the bikes are widely promoted wihtin the campus with the bike track establish to promote the enable route for biking. 20.January 2018.

Currently, the university has a total of 35,000 students studying on this campus. Despite their chosen subject area, there are at least four core subject all students have to complete: Thai language, English language, Civic Engagement and Environmental subjects, according to a third year student who accompany our team visit. These last two subjects aim at students have interaction and provide awareness to community living in the area surrounding the campus about the importance of waste manage and how this link directly to improving their health and well-being. Students assignment including waste picking and classification so that it could use for the biomass energy generation.

Arjan Prinya provides the brief orientation about the accessibility t
o the bike for mobility around the campus. He also explained about the shuttle bus at the university that run on the solar PV. Each shuttle bus is installed with 6 panels that are sufficient to run for the whole day.

View of Thammasat University Rangsit Campus from the rooftop of the faculty building where Solar PV are covered most part of the buidling. View of 5th floor (roof). At the top right, another building with installed solar PV to generate electricity to meet the needs of the university.
 At present, the installed solar panel has the capacity to generate 5Megawat of electricity. This represents 1/3 of the total energy needs at the university and by 2034 (?), the university aims at reaching the installed capacity of 15MW. This target years also commemorate the 100th Years Anniversary of the University Operation in Thailand. Arjan is very proud to say that his university is the first one in the country to implement the Smart City/Campus.

Fellow training participants biked around the campus after the rooftop solar panel station visit. This is a very nice environment to move around especially after the heavy assignment or a long lecture in your subject area. I just like the fact that the colour yellow stands out among the green environment. 20 January 2018.

I feel very proud to hear that there are great people like the leadership at the Thammasat University lecturers and professor and factory staff that put the effort together very seriously in effort to reduce the CO2 impact on planet earth and make it a greener place for living.

As he rightly said, they have done their part and it remains the part of the students and the people that have seen this way to take action on themselves to make change. That change doesn't start with someone else but with ourselves.  Such an inspiration and I hope that the students who study there feel lucky enough to take this practices back to their home, family and bigger society they are living in. I hope that this similar thought and model could replicate in my country and some of the great university we have in the country.