Kanha: the passion to help :

Kanha: the passion to help

Portrait of Kanha in a slum

A moving encounter with Kanha, a PSE social worker driven by a desire to help the most disadvantaged.

We settled on the terrace of the PSE's application restaurant, the Lotus Blanc. The heat is intense, but the place is quiet and peaceful, with birds flying and singing around. 

It's in this gentle atmosphere that we meet Kanha, a young woman with a broad smile and sparkling eyes. She's a quiet force, who has made her passion for helping others her profession: she's one of the association's social workers. 

A path towards others

Kanha looks back on a happy childhood surrounded by her parents and four siblings. "Both my parents were teachers and despite their low incomes, I had a happy childhood. I fondly recall enjoying time with friends near a lush green rice field. These memories remain cherished to me" she says with a broad smile. 

Kanha went on to study sociology and, after graduating, had several experiences in NGOs working on social and educational issues. 

A few years later, she heard about a job as a social worker at PSE. "It reminded me of the first time I heard of PSE during Papy's funeral. I remember the city being crowded and people deeply sad, so I started to inform myself about what was happening. I learned about the NGO and felt connected with the mission and vocation of PSE!"

In no time at all, she applied and got the job. "I was warmly welcomed by the social team who showed me the work of a social officer: how they receive family applications, I went into communities to see how visits are conducted, the different programs, and how to follow up... Then I had to try it own my own" she recalls with emotion still palpable.

Confronting poverty

"I visited a family in the community and asked them the questionnaire. It was the first time I faced poverty like that!" she says.

"The first three months were intense and extremly stressful. I witnessed a lot of violence" she says before detailing a particularly traumatic situation. "I vividly remember of a father who came to PSE shouting at the social workers. It was shocking but I decided to focus on his son".

Kanha discute avec une femme dans un bidonville de Phnom Penh

This child needed our help to be protected from the violence he was suffering

Kanha pauses, takes a deep breath, tears streaming down her cheeks, and the continues: "now he's well, so I cannot feel more joy about his story".

Kanha lors d'une visite dans une communauté

The social team at the heart of PSE's mission

The PSE social team's job is to support the children by providing them with care best suited to their needs. The aim is to prevent them from dropping out of school and enable them to train for a trade that will allow them to escape poverty once and for all. Each social worker looks after around a hundred families, visiting them at least once a year to ensure that the help provided is as appropriate as possible. 

"I remember this mother who spent her days collecting garbage while her 3-year-old child stayed locked in a small room, neglected. Placing that child in one of PSE's community service centers was a joy!" says Kanha as a smile lit up her face. 

"I have always been, and still am, immensely proud to be part of PSE. It is a continuous learning experience for us and for those we help, amidst major challenges like violence, drugs and fight against poverty".

"Change doesn't happen overnight; it requires time, patience and love"

"I find happiness in being able to make a difference at PSE" she exclaims.

Kanha drives into a Phnom Penh slum

Fighting child abuse

In 2023, Kanha was promoted senior social worker. In addition to her other missions, she specialized in cases of abuse, particularly sexual violence. This is a particularly sensitive subject, dealt with on a case-by-case basis by a committee of professionals in contact with the child concerned. Collaboration with other partner NGOs has been set up to meet health needs, provide support for complaints, and combat sexual abuse and cyber sexual abuse.

This new mission is challenging for Kanha, who shares some of her fears with us. "When I help a family file a complaint against an abusive father for example, I feel insecure because they know where we work. So yes, sometimes I am scared". However, she continues. "I am doing it for the children and their families. Obviously, I cannot turn away from abuse cases and let that happen. And I feel relieved to know that most of the time, cases are resolved, and victims can recover while the aggressor serves his sentence in prison. 

How to imagine the future when everyday life is so uncertain? "There are still many challenges, and we need to preserve because only time can strenghten our efforts to help the poorest children" concludes Kanha.