|Democracy Summer Camp Brings Law Students to Rural Village to Build Cambodian Democracy
September 4, 2012
Last week, Equitable Cambodia held its first "Democracy Summer Camp," in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the Paris Peace Accords and the establishment of Cambodia's liberal democracy.
The Democracy Camp, held at the Community Vocational Training Center in Chamcar Bei village, Kep Province, brought 30 university law students together for five days of village immersion and learning the principles of democracy and human rights, combined with plenty of fun. Participants received training of trainers on Equitable Cambodia's training course, Civics: An Introduction to Law, Rights and Democracy for Cambodian Citizens, which aims to educate Cambodian youth about the rights and duties of citizenship and how they can be more active participants in public affairs. By the end of day one the group had bonded closely and were alight with excitement and enthusiasm for the camp. They were engaged in the training sessions, both as participants and facilitators, questioning and debating the issues in lively and thoughtful discussion.
With early morning farm work to get a taste of the life of most rural Cambodians, and late nights of playing games and preparing their lessons, the students displayed plenty of energy and commitment to the camp's aims. For quite a few of the students it was their first time doing agriculture and they looked a little dazed with the early starts and hard work, but they threw themselves into it, with one overenthusiastic student breaking the handle of his hoe with his vigorous digging.
The camp ended with the participants going to the community school in Chamcar Bei to facilitate four Civics lessons for local students aged from 12 to 18 years. This was a challenging afternoon for the participants and their hard work paid off. They captured the interest of the local students, who responded with plenty of questions and comments about the status of Cambodian democracy.
On the final night the participants swapped law for the stage, with an evening of comedy and dance sketches. The audience collapsed in laughter as the young men of the group shoved balloons up their shirts and plastered themselves with makeup to play female characters, with much thrusting out of chests and swaying of hips. Along with the laughs were serious messages about domestic violence and human rights and, of course, plenty of music and dance.
The hard work and ability the Equitable Cambodia's Community Empowerment and Legal Awareness (CELA) team, who organized the Camp, paid off with all of the participants taking up the training challenge and committing to facilitate 10 Civics workshops with youth groups in Phnom Penh and five provinces over the next two months.