Free To Shine's 8th Birthday!
I hope you are well. You might know that this Friday is International Children’s Day, a reminder to consider children’s rights and well-being around the world. What you might not know is June 1st is also Free To Shine’s 8th birthday.
Happy Birthday to us!
This year we made a documentary film! It’s not for you and I so you won’t find it on Netflix – it’s for our girls so you’ll find screenings across 50 rural Cambodian villages. We know that without deeply embedded goals when a family hits a crisis some of the girls we work with opt to abandon their educations before the state-mandated grade 9 minimum, in favour of seeking unskilled and irregular employment to subsidise their family income. In order to inspire and expose girls to the range of professional opportunities that women can, and do, excel in, we created a documentary film interviewing 12 Cambodian women about their traditional and non-traditional careers, and conducted a series of screenings and goal-setting workshops.
We also delivered Gender Equity Training to our Cambodian team, because how can they role model gender equity when they themselves have been raised within a culture that teaches specific roles?
These are the words of Sreymom, our Program Officer, who conducted the training for our team. Our team members are increasingly challenging Cambodia’s social and cultural norms and are excited to see the same progress and change in attitudes within the families and communities we support. And each girl on our program, aged 14+ has received their very own copy of ‘A Proper Woman’ by Cambodian author Thavry Thon, who also features in our Future Goals documentary. This book redefines what it means to be a proper woman.
As our program has developed and expanded, the relationships we build through our family visits remain central to the success of our work. Going out with the team and visiting the communities, families and girls we support gives me the drive and determination to get through all the busy weeks, emails, board meetings and tough decisions. Seeing our work first-hand also makes me so proud and excited for Free To Shine’s future. But enough from me, here’s a few poignant, funny and insightful words from some of the girls we work with:
All we have achieved so far is because so many people have come together to play their part in a common goal. Earlier this week we reached a milestone of $1.5 million, the last $1 million of which was all raised in the last 2 years and 7 months. Thanks for being part of our team!
Warmest Regards from myself and all at Free To Shine,
Founder & Managing Director,