Violence against children remains an issue, and everyone should do their part. As such, World Vision has partnered with Buddhists monks in Cambodia, as both parties share the same concerns for children and can make a bigger difference together.
Channels of Hope for Child Protection (CoH-CP), a cross-faith working group, was formed to discuss ideas and explore ways to create an environment in which children are safe and realise their full potential.
Violence against children, if not properly addressed, will ultimately hurt Cambodia’s human resource and the ability to compete in the global economy. World Vision is more than pleased to work with any like-minded partners.
Early this year, World Vision’s Child Protection and Faith and Development Teams conducted the first ever workshop with the monks. In Cambodia, World Vision works with communities that are predominantly Buddhist. Child protection materials are contextualized to suit local needs, enabling the Buddhist faith leaders to engage followers and practice the curriculum within their own faith communities.
Supported by the Ministry of Cults and Religion, 32 Buddhist monks of two denominations and from various universities participated in the sessions, learning key concepts and themes on child protection and linking them with Buddhist teachings and principles.
The monks actively debated and discussed about how their faith communities could take action to tackle violence against children. At the end of the workshop, 12 monks volunteered to engage in a technical working group with World Vision.
We have made headway with Buddhist faith leaders and it is very encouraging to see them fully engaged.
Venerable monk Vey Sovanna from Bottum Pagoda expressed his enthusiasm for the child protection efforts: “I am quite interested and willing to work on this contextualization process with the team. While we are of a different religion, we can work together to find a simple and effective way for members of both faiths to engage and protect all children from violence.”
The 12 volunteer monks and five key World Vision staff formed a Technical Working Group (TWG). They meet regularly and actively to come up with appropriate contextualization of activities and learning points which Buddhist communities can use for teaching purposes. The TWG is also in the midst of finalising a local manual in the Khmer language for easy use and access to information.
“We have made headway with Buddhist faith leaders and it is very encouraging to see them fully engaged and even offering to be trained as future CoH-CP facilitators. They will remain long after World Vision leaves the communities so the opportunity is now. We have to open more doors so they can reach out to their own faith communities and catalyze change through CoH-CP,” Aimyleen Gabriel, Technical Manager for Child Protection at World Vision observed.
The TWG has shared numerous thoughts and ideas, especially on common Buddhist and Christian values and principles such as upholding, restoring and honoring the dignity and value of every human being. The group plans to conduct field testing to ensure that the content is simple, as well as easy to understand and learn.
Channy Sar, Senior Programme Officer for Child Protection at World Vision, reflected: "My first thought was that working together with different beliefs might be a challenge. But the TWG understood the aim of this CoH-CP curriculum, and thus we remained open to each other, discussing many relevant things and finding common ground.
The resources will be in place in time for WV Cambodia’s LEAP 3 Technical Programme implementation in 2018.