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International Women’s Day 2017

Some of the incredible Journeys Within ladies who work out of our Cambodia office – Leak, Kanika, Naida, Linda and Sokunna!

To celebrate the amazing women at Journeys Within who are representatives of women around the world, Andrea will be doing a Facebook Live chat at 8am on Wednesday, March 8th for International Women’s Day.  She will be chatting  about Journeys Within, our incredible team and how we work to empower women in the communities where we work.  We also asked our team about the role of women in their daily lives and you can find some of their inspiring answers below:

Onkeo’s Mom picking flowers

How are women important in your daily life?

Chris: My daily life is surrounded by many women which is more than I can mention; my mom, my sister, my boss, my colleagues, my friends, the maid at the office, the food vendor, and etc. They are all important as being part of my life, part of the society, and part of the world. Without mom, I wouldn’t exist. Without the auntie food vendor, I would be starving. Without the maid, my office would be dirty. I believe that we are all created equal, as an individual living organism, and without gender issue. Like pieces of jigsaw, all are important to make a picture perfect regardless of individual shape, color, gender, and sexual preference.

April: My daily life would not function without women. I send my kids to school where they have women teachers, the after school program is run by women as well. I go to work at a company that was founded by a woman, and is operated by many incredible women.

Nicole: Extremely important.  They are invaluable to me and my life as they are constant powerful sources of inspiration, guidance, encouragement and support.

Michelle: The women of Vietnam  are still considered the center of the home, responsible for upholding traditions and daily routines. There is a strong solidarity nurtured amongst the female population. The bond and knowledge passed down through the generations and from one to another is highly respected and nurtured.

Nicole and her mom

How do you feel about working in a company with many strong women?

Onkeo: I’m feeling great to work with a company that have many strong women, Trust & accept on their decision,  Warm & more confidential on asking their supervise as women are more details & softer than man, so there’s less chance of doing mistake, Great cooperation about work and anything

Chris: It has always been more than fantastic to work among wonder women in a dynamic professional team working environment at Journeys Within. Each individual has own unbeatable distinctive strength, admirable prominent feature, and exceptional leadership style. I can feel the equal job opportunity and gender is not a major issue anymore.

April: It’s fabulous. The women I work with inspire me daily. Everyone works very hard, yet manages to still be kind, fun, creative and they are always lifting each other up. Strong women truly care about each other and want each other to succeed.

Jay: I enjoy being surrounded by strong women from all walks of life. The women at Journeys Within are tough and inspirational. They know what they want and they continue to achieve all the while balancing families, children and businesses. The convention in Asia is still that women are the weaker sex and I thoroughly enjoy witnessing how incorrect this antiquated statement truly is.

Naida: It is interesting and there are many strong wills but I do believe the reason JW is successful is because there are so many women with a lot of knowledge and strong opinions.

Tracy: This is challenge for everyone, if we all understand each other then we will have a strong team. I myself, am very happy to work with all strong women, as now 80 % of our staff are women, they are all strong, confident at work, family and so happy at home. Because, they all working and sharing the hard work with their husband. They are not just mom.

Dana: I love working for a company who is predominantly run by women and incredibly strong women at that. The drive, passion and determination is unlike no other. There is a sense of care, understanding and a special touch when it comes to putting together the perfect tailor made itineraries for our guests.

Nicole: I love working for a company that not only gives opportunities to woman by employing them, but also supports and celebrates their life choices, whether that be to be a superhero mom, a small business owner/entrepreneur or an independent trailblazer.

Joy: It’s good opportunity to work with many strong women; to get a new challenge, exchange of ideas, skills and knowledge

Chieu: I am really proud of working in a company with many strong women. It is such a great experiences that I have got from them and they are so great, strong, friendly and helpful. I am really delighted to be here with them as a family and get good advice from them as well.

The Southern Vietnam office celebrating Christmas together

Who’s your female hero?

Dar Le: There are many at different area. But Daw Aung San Su Kyi is my hero.

Onkeo: My female hero is my mom and wife

Chris: I would say Aung San Suu Kyi. She spends most of her life fighting for the right thing, for the majority of people in her country. Her sacrifice and contribution changes the world.

April: I have quite a few! My mom, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Andrea Ross, Hillary Clinton, Rosa Parks. There’s more, but I’ll keep my list on the short side ; )

Jay: Honestly, I am my own female hero! I grew up without any strong female role models in my life so I became my own champion.

Naida: My mum is my female hero. When we had to flee from the war in Bosnia she took me and my brother to Sweden herself while my dad had to stay and join the army. She raised us in a new country all alone until my dad could join us three years later.

Nicole: My mom.  A single mother who worked hard to take care of her children, while persevering through her own personal life struggles.  Even though she has passed, her spirit and love continue to guide me as I move forward through life.

Michelle: There is a little bit of heroine in every female. Today it could be you, or it could be me and it could be some small act of kindness, or something monumental depending on perspective. Perhaps it is the friend that patiently listens whilst you work challenges through.  It may be the colleague that makes you laugh and gives you that all so important boost when things aren’t going to plan. Think of the women that quietly struggle around the world on a daily basis to raise a family, or simply to keep on living. We see more and more pioneering women at the forefront of adventure and advancement who are doing amazing things in previously male dominated careers.  Of course, we mustn’t forget the educators, both formal and informal, that show us the way forward. Most importantly we should recognize that our daughters are the heroines of tomorrow that will continue on with the legacy left by previous generations. We should teach our daughters to listen and be observant, inquisitive, intuitive, compassionate and strong.

Chieu: My mother is my hero. She is a great woman who is my idol. She look after me and my family very well and she never complain of facing many difficulty for family. She is a great mother and also a wonderful grandmother as she give us warm and love.  Moreover, she is good mentor who always help me to deal with problem I met as I usually share with her. Furthermore, the neighbors in the community really like her, as she is a helpful and kind woman. She is friendly and get respect from many people in our community. I love her so much!

Joy & her mom

Are there any changes that you’d like to see for women in your home town, province or country going forward?

Dar Le: Very much would like to see improvements at health care sectors for women.

Onkeo: I would like to see more opportunity for women to get higher education and go to study abroad, More chance to be a leader as male, Special health care

Sone: In my opinion I would like to see the women in my country and many countries have many political roles in both public and private sector.

Chris: I would like to see people in Thailand are more open-minded and having less gender-biased attitude, from politics to job offer.

April: I was recently at a community STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) event. While at the event my young daughter was fascinated with the surgeons booth and ended up staying there all night. It was clear this was something that she took great interest in. One gentleman noticed her excitement and looked at her and said “If you really love this, then maybe you can grow up and be a nurse.” It was a simple comment and something I know he meant in a kind way, but it really struck me that if he was talking to my son he would have said he could have been a surgeon, not a nurse. In a dream world, it wouldn’t have crossed that man’s mind that my daughter couldn’t grow up to be whatever she wanted to be.

Jay: (Australia) I would love to see women from my home country become more educated about the world. More and more young women are breaking the ‘rules of society’ these days and choosing to travel and see the world before settling down. I support this 100% and encourage as many young women as possible to see as much of the world as they can! Travel is the best life education you can give yourself.

Naida: Sweden is probably one of the most equal countries in the world but still has miles to go. Women still have to fight for equal salaries for doing the same jobs as men and let’s not even start to discuss how women are treated in the media. I would love a female prime minister in Sweden.

Nicole: I would love to see more women receive higher levels of education at universities and colleges in the region.  The value of education is increasing in this part of the world, especially for women. When a woman has an education, she has the ability to make her own choices and not be as dependent on others. I believe this instills more independence, confidence and self-worth which only improves communities overall.

Joy: I want to see the best law from the government in order to protect the women work force in all job industries especially the prostitution issue.

Sone during the Bacci Ceremony at her wedding

What makes you feel empowered as a woman?

Dar Le: There’s nothing a woman can’t do in this world.

Sone: I think it’s my mind and actions. The confidence, respect and self-reliant is the key to become a strong woman.

April: I believe in my worth, and I am willing to stand up to those who feel I’m worth less simply because I am a woman. That’s pretty empowering.

Jay: I have a husband that completely respects my choices and openly encourages me to be all that I can be. I feel empowered because he is a part of a new generation of men who can truly respect a woman for all that she is.

Naida: That I can take a stand I believe in and be respected for it.

Nicole: Being respected and celebrated for my life choices, even if not ones that are normally taken as a girl from a small town in North Carolina.

Chieu: To me, getting a good job, good salary and get high education are what I really feel empowered as a woman. Because I am able to earn and support my family as man do which I don’t have to rely on men every time and I am able to get good education which is very important for all people not just for the men.

Dar Le and Thandar preparing for a 10km run

What are your dreams and goals for the future?

Sone: My dreams and goals for the future is being a successful woman and have enough power to taking care of my family and parents.

Jay: I would love to become a tourism lecturer at university level. My dream is to share my passion for this industry with as many young people as possible.

Naida: I want to be able to look back at my life and say that I have accomplished something, that my existence had a meaning.

Tracy: Be a dollars billionaire, Helping poor people in Vietnam, Travel all over the world.

Nicole: My dreams are to continue to learn, grow and take advantage of the experiences life offers.

Joy: I want my son to be happy and have a good life.

Michelle: That my daughters continue to grow into happy, balanced and strong women.

Andrea and April with their children and friends
Tracy celebrating Women’s Day with her family
A female street vendor in Vietnam heading out for a day of work

Documenting Cambodia — a Siem Reap exhibition

The current state of human rights in Cambodia is illustrated in 1961’s latest exhibit ‘Documenting Cambodia’. Opening earlier this month, the gallery’s portraits take the viewer to parts of the country rarely seen…

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In greased covered clothes, kneeling amongst his tool, the young boy in the photo looks more like my hard-working grandfather than the child he is.  His hardened gaze meets me with resistance and I can’t help but wonder when was the last time this working boy laughed. His face refuses to give him away.

This was among my favourite pictures at the Documenting Cambodia photography exhibit at 1961, in Siem Reap. Running until April 30th, the exhibit highlights the state of human, social and environmental issues in Cambodia today.

Omar Havana’s picture of the young boy/mechanic was taken for his piece on child labour in Cambodia wasn’t the only compelling photograph to strike a cord with me.

Each of the seven photographers involved with the show — Erika Pineros, Thomas Cristofoletti, David Belluz, Meng Kimlong, Omar Havana, Sam Jam and George Nickels — paint vivid portraits of the issues they represent.

Evening shots of people with headlamps on mounds of city garbage make up Meng Kimlong’s piece Life in Rubbish Dump.  She highlights the lives of those who spend their days rummaging through trash in order to make a living.

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Thoman Christofoletti’s series Blood Sugar, which examines land grabs by large sugar companies and the lives of those displaced and forced to work in the fields.

Blood Sugar by Thomas Christofoletti looks at the effect the sugar cane industry has on rural populations whose land has been seized. With no other economic drivers, the former subsistence farmers and their children work long hours, for little pay.

The exhibit also examines two other land rights issues.

David Belluz examines the People of Andong — the 7,000 Cambodians who were forcibly evicted from a city slum so their land could be sold to a real estate developer. They were relocated to an empty field 24km outside the city, where there were no homes, no fresh water and no sewage facilities. Belluz’s photos of life around the cracked culvert are a testament to strength and tenacity of the people who refuse to give up.

Erika Pineros’ exhibit, The Untitled, looks at the 2007 annexing of 133 hectares of land in Phnom Penh, including a large natural lake that was filled in. The land was eventually leased to a company owned by senator for the Cambodian Peoples Party, leaving 3,500 families out on the street.

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“I want Cambodian law to be fair for everyone even rich or poor, for those people who have no voice in court. Last of all, is there any justice for poor people like me?” — a prisoner silk-screens this message during an art project on Human Rights Day.Part of Sam Jam’s exhibit Prisoner Portrait.

The state of the current prison system and the long term effects of landmines — Pol Pot’s perfect soldiers — are among the other issued tackled by the talented photographers.

While the subject matter is complicated and at time daunting the photographs don’t dwell in the darkness.

The stunning photos are accompanied by brief biographies of the issues examined, making the exhibit as informative as it is visually appealing. A great introduction to those visitors looking to delve a little deeper into issues that shape the current Cambodia.