Q&A With SCY Founder
Journalism student Kounila Keo speaks with SCY founder and director, Em Chan Makara.
1. Since you told us you started your advocacy job for child’s rights when you were 13 years old, could you tell us what inspired you to do so?
What inspired me to advocate for child’s rights since the age of 13 was that Cambodian elders usually think that the young cannot make decisions, and give no value to participation from the youth. That is just because they do not fully understand our valuable participation. However, we will work harder to advocate for child rights even more.
2. How did you create Support Children and Young People?
I have worked to promote child’s rights for almost 13 years my entire life. While I was creating this organization, I already had a great deal of experience in the area. SCY was created in 2003, so it’s been nearly seven years from now. The reason for me to initiate this organization is to push for child’s rights here in Cambodia and to engage them and youth together in social development of every sector.
Youth Today was created almost a year after, in 2004. “Youth Today” is a youth-driven program where documentaries are produced by our volunteers and screened for 10 minutes every week. One of our documentaries that lasts for five minutes, featuring ‘benefits of reading’ won “International Children Broadcast Day” regional award in New York in 2009.
Media advocacy is a new tool to develop children and young people. They learn to gather information, make judgement and decisions based on how accurate their news is. Even more, they learn to broadcast their own information, so they have to be more careful in every step. This is really important as they will learn to speak up for themselves while we may have never been taught to do so.
5. What challenges has your organization encountered?
We have so far pushed for child’s rights here in Cambodia. We understand that we need to train more children and young people to learn to become young reporters. We also need to strengthen the capacity of SCY’s staff even more and more personnel from outside to help train the children.
6. What has improved and what has not in terms of the general situation of child’s rights.
We have seen a lot of improvement in child’s rights and a lot of involvement from children and young people. I hope to see more and more organizations develop agendas that focus on child’s rights and their development. We have worked with the Ministry of Education, the Government and the United Nations to bring out changes. The short message I want to give is: “Please also listen to what children have to say.”
7. SCY is a youth-driven initiative. What do you think of children and youth participation in Cambodia’s society?
Youth are like the new bamboo shoots that are growing. With the right care, love and training, they will grow up bright and patriotic toward their own country. Their participation and outputs are appreciated, and should be more valued in a bid to develop Cambodia.