This is a personal story about a women who works as a Social Worker in Cambodia. We asked her questions about her personal live, but also about the way corona effected her job as Social worker and what it is to work during a pandemic like this.
We met this woman through one of our fellow student, because she had already visited Cambodia and therefore had some nice contacts. The first moment we were in contact we already knew that she is a very spontaneous woman who likes to share her story with us. She made us feel comfortable and she was open to all kinds of questions. In addition, she sent us some pretty pictures of how things are now going in Cambodia. We have placed these photos between her story to get an idea of what it actually looks like.
First of all, to start her story, she told us about how life in Cambodia was before the corona virus happened. For her the answer to this question was pretty simple, because everything was normal and everything worked well, like usual. Just like people in other countries, life was the way it was and everyone did their thing. The Cambodian people went to their work and did their jobs like normal, without any concern there would something happen in the near future. Something that would change everything in a second. Schools, from kindergarten to universities were open. Markets, shops, churches and other places where people often gather were visited.
Then the coronavirus happened, and Cambodia did not come off undamaged. In the beginning and during the coronavirus everything changed drastically. This started in the middle of March. Immediate measures have been taken to combat the coronavirus. For a start, a lot of companies, factories, schools, hotels, restaurants and markets through the whole country where forced to close. People had to adhere to social distancing. Also the population wasn't and still isn't allowed to meet in groups bigger than 20 people together, especially when you are not from one household. This obviously means they can't have a party or a religious gathering. People need to stay home if it is not necessary to go outside. If they do have to go outside, it is mandatory to wear a mask and to keep to the 1,5 meters distance. Yet she indicates that people in Cambodia respect social distancing.
The consequences of this measures are that a lot of people lost their job. The very sad truth is that there are even already a couple of companies (restaurants, hotels, schools), who are closed forever. They didn't have enough money to survive. These measures, including all consequences, were intended to put people in quarantine and to limit further spread. In Cambodia there are always people walking on the streets, which means it is quite a job to keep everyone at home.
Besides the measures for the Cambodian people themselves, there are also measures for travellers who want to visit Cambodia. Before they enter the country, their health will be checked and they are put in quarantine for 14 days, to make sure there is no virus.
She thinks that all these measures are need to be lived by, just to keep the population and the country protected and save. She thinks that when we choose to be reckless, this could mean that somebody dies because of this. People she was close to before the pandemic and her workplace are all at a distance for now. She told us: 'Corona affected me on my daily income to support my family, because I have to pay a loan and make daily expenses.' This shows that it is difficult for people in Cambodia to support themselves and their families with the money they receive.
She thinks that it is very important to take good care of ourselves. That you should encourage yourself not to be afraid. Yet it is important to be aware of how easily you can get the virus and then spread it again. That's why she thinks it is also important to make others aware of this too. Following the rules, like social distancing, hygiene and the masks is very important to her.
As a social worker She comes into contact with a lot of children and their parents. She notes that is currently difficult for a social worker to work. Yet she tries to point out to the children's parents about the education that their children receive and the attention that should be paid to it. Parents seem to listen, but don't do anything with the information. They only do what they think is right for their families. Besides this she also focuses on the poor people. She gives them food supplies, because they lost their job, don't have any income or something like that. Still she asked the families how they are doing and tells them not to be hopeless during this time of pandemic.
After this pandemic, she hopes everything will get better again. She hopes and prays that everything in Cambodia will be like before again. She really wants to see that all people get their job and salary back, so they can support their families again.
All of this information is coming from an interview, interviewed on June 1, 2020 , retrieved on June 3, 2020.