– to Provide Vulnerable Cambodian Women with Choices Towards a Strong Future Through the Operation of a Financially Sustainable Social Enterprise.

The Problem
Recent Genocide, Poverty, No Education, Restrictive Choices, and Low Status of Women

The Damage
Inter-generational Trauma, Dis-empowerment, Violence, Exploitation, and Lifelong Poverty

The Solution
Safety, Education, Marketable Skills, Comfort, Choices, Empowerment, Enjoyment, and Fair Employment.

Vulnerable Cambodian Women

Cambodian culture teaches children to obey their parents for a life time. Daughters are told that when their family sees fit they will marry a man of their parent’s choosing. Girls dream of fetching a high bride price for their financially desperate family.

Severely traumatized by genocide, many parents fear losing their children and in an effort to keep their girls dependent do not educate or teach them skills. Daughters are told that they will be taken care of always. Unfortunately such is rarely the case.

Arranged marriage often fails leaving the woman trapped with children in an abusive relationship or abandoned by a disinterested husband and with no means of support.

Role-reversing parenting styles resulting from parental PTSD are common. Daughters grow up with crippling guilt for their parents unspoken trauma. When their parents become ill or accrue debts girls are expected to find a way to cover the costs.

Many girls move to the factories at a young age, some choose sex work or are forced into it. Factories are overcrowded, unsafe and offer no hope for the future. Sex workers routinely endure violent clients, police abuse, and gang rape.

The Banteay Srey Project offers much expanded choices for vulnerable rural Cambodian girls facing hopeless futures.

Choices Towards a Stronger Future

Banteay Srey Project has developed a vocational training centre where girls have the opportunity to develop a wide range of marketable skills as well as life skills. At the centre trainees also study English, Khmer, and basic mathematics. The project provides a supervised residence where young women can develop their independence in a comfortable safe environment.  Trainees are also offered yoga and meditation classes to support their personal growth and healing from inter-generational trauma.

Trainees are offered a maximum of 2 years training and employment at the centre by which time they are well prepared to navigate a broad range of employment choices in the growing hospitality and tourism sector. Graduating trainees are given support to find excellent job placements in spas, resorts, or restaurants. Select trainees may be mentored to open small businesses under the Banteay Srey name.

A Financially Sustainable Social Enterprise

Spa Location

Along the riverside of the quiet town of Kampot,Cambodia lies a small paradise for tourists known as the Banteay Srey Women’s Spa. It is a Social Enterprise where Banteay Srey Project provides young Cambodia women with a paid job experience and training opportunity.  At the spa, project trainees are given step by step instruction to develop skills continuously throughout their entire work experience.  Working with foreign guests, communicating in English, and providing an upscale spa experience they cultivate a new sense of self esteem and life enjoyment. They are given excellent working conditions, paid a fair salary, and also earn commission and tips. Staff and trainees at the spa are taught good work ethics and also learn how to advocate appropriately for themselves in a workplace.

Kampot is a growing tourist destination and so far the spa has proved to be incredibly popular. All spa products are made on-site using locally sourced ingredients. This organic approach has been very popular with guests and keeps the overhead of the spa as low as possible. Banteay Srey works hard towards a realistic goal of financial sustainability but is still at this time in need of donor contributions to offset the cost of establishment and ongoing training.

The Banteay Srey Name

In Khmer, Banteay Srey means “Women’s Temple” or “Citadel of Women”. The Banteay Srey temple, located near Angkor Wat in Cambodia, was built in honor of female deities. The temple, covered with ornate carvings, is extremely beautiful. Today, for Cambodian women, the temple represents strength, unity, safety and empowerment.