Social worker, Senara Tan, went to Phnom Penh to train with First Step. Here’s what she learnt while there.
I am currently travelling on the Mekong Express from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap for $10. Over the other buses, you get breakfast, a bottle of cold water, wifi and a significant amount of legroom. The bus, however, is old and tatty. They have done it up with some dangling fabric but the bus is at least 40 years old.
Anyway, I’ve just finished one week training with First Step. They directly meet the needs of male survivors of sexual abuse and their supporters. This includes the direct provision of a variety of social work and support services for boys and their families, and a range of high quality, unique training, learning and support services for those working with and caring for boys and young men.
What I most enjoyed was listening to the presenters who have created a range of unique learning, training and support opportunities designed to meet the needs of social workers, carers and others working with victims and survivors.
Here are the top 3 things I learned:

  1. Knowing ourselves – empathy-building is good for relationships with your clients
  2. Different kinds of responses to use in counselling like body language, sounds, short words, clarifying questions and reflecting feeling
  3. The stages of a child’s sexual development. Knowing the clients’ sex, sexual relationships and sexual developments helps to better understand the clients’ experience with sexual abuse and/or exploitation.

I will use the training back at Women’s Resource Center to better understand clients who have experienced sexual abuse and/or exploitation. I will practice my empathy, listening, observation, asking and responding skills.
I will also be reflecting and thinking about common beliefs related to the sexual abuse of boys. With First Step, we will next be looking in detail at the common beliefs related to the sexual abuse of boys in Cambodia and comparing them to factual and accurate information.
As for what I thought about Phnom Penh – the capital city still maintains a lot of charm with plenty to see. There are many interesting touristy sites. Beside the Royal Palace, there is the Silver Pagoda, the National Museum, the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. There are several market places selling carvings, paintings, silk, silver, gems and even antiques. The whole area including the outskirts of Phnom Penh is about 376 square kilometres big. There are currently 2,009,264 people living in Phnom Penh.