Impression on the Experience Sharing Session on “Cambodian Youths’ Vision on Financial Freedom through: Youth Saving Group”


On 15th May 2012, from 3:00pm-6:00pm, I have organized the experience sharing session on “Cambodian Youths’ vision on financial freedom through: Youth Saving  Group” with the sincere support from Servicestelle Jugendbeteiligung e.V (SJB), my practicum organization, and Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the organization that I have got my scholarship. The convenient and fully equipped venue took place in GIZ Berlin office at Köthener Strasse 2 – 3, Potsdamer Platz with 8 participants, who are Youth Bank and SJB colleagues in Berlin, GIZ scholar and one youth, who had volunteered in Cambodia through exchanged projects. The objectives of this sharing session were to introduce participants to have overview about Cambodia, youth situation, sharing my personal life experience and my activities with have been done in Cambodia and youth group and the most important thing was to get valuable comments from participants’ perspectives in developing my youth saving group in the future.

I have sent the invitation to invite several other youth organizations in Berlin that have been involving in youth activities and some projects in Cambodia for exchanging perspective and experience. However, finally there were only 8 potential participants in this session. Anyway that were suitable number of participants that we can have in-depth and detail discussion and interaction. I have learned a lot through the process of organizing this workshop.

One of my good colleague, Tilman and I had arrived the venue one hour before for preparation. All modern and comfortable equipment were already prepared by GIZ organizer.

        The sharing session undertook in German language. The session started  with welcome and introduction to the agenda of the day. Then, participants introduced themselves and their expectations for attending this session. They said that, they would like to have more in-depth and detail overview about youth situation in Cambodia and the rationales and the process of establishing youth saving group for contributing to the youth situation’s betterment in Cambodia.

For giving participants an overview about Cambodia, I have played a video clip produced by Ministry of Tourism in Cambodia (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj_3oLBuQ6Y) which reflected the geography, populations, cultural event, festivals, culture, attractions and history of Cambodia. During playing this video clip, I gave some explanations on some important figures. It was a really relaxed atmosphere.

After showing this video, I continued to share about my personal life experience and family situation when I was in high-school until I have been today.  My life experience is the similar mirror and reflection for participants to have some ideas about some youth situation and challenges in Cambodia. I had shared about some difficult family situations and my bad and regretted behaviors I had done when I was in High-school. After passing the high-school final year exam, I decided and committed to change myself until I become who I am now.

With the rationals of establishing youth saving group, I have seen some challenges that Cambodian youths and I myself have been confronting such as:

– lacking of opportunity and accessibility to study in good quality universities due to financial shortage

– lacking of entrepreneurship and creative ideas

– lacking of emotional and financial support for their creativeness and personal development

– many youths have not clear financial management, plan and vision

– youth networking sometime function not really well because of lacking of ownership and participation

Then, my group’s members and I decided to establish this saving group together in 08th November 2009 in CAN office. I had already shared about the challenges and opportunities that Cambodian people access to loan, in order to fight on high interest rate and very bureaucratic loan process.

Regarding to the establishment of youth saving group, I raised the example of “Friends Help Friends Saving Group” through introducing the process of gathering information and concepts of saving group from resources persons and experts in this field, process of discussion and decision making on the regulations and principle with members through democratic ways and voluntary inspiration, and the process of management and leadership. There were a numbers of questions from participants and some complex processes and networking with other youth saving groups. I have shown the photo of my youth saving group members and what we are doing during the monthly meeting and contents of our monthly discussion and sharing.

Before this experience sharing session ended, I had asked participants to give their impressions and ideas for future development of the saving group. They felt impressed to see what Cambodian youth have been done and created for youths. They admired that it is a sense of autonomy and self-help concept that my group and other youth saving groups have been done. This saving group concept and system that we have been created and decided are very concrete, complex and reliable.  They hoped that our youth saving groups continues to mobilize this concept and bring to other young people in other areas. They also hope that youth saving groups will be able to have some budget for supporting youth’s projects and activities for multiplying this great initiative. One participant who has some exchange visit project in Cambodia proposed to visit our saving group when they visit Cambodia.

I am really glad that this workshop has been done with time set and with active discussion between participants. Finally, I would like to say thank you to all participants, GIZ organizer and SJB colleagues for giving me physical and emotional support in organizing this sharing session.

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