Precious Women

Precious Women:
I visited the organization called Precious Women who’s vision is:  To see all exploited women who work at karaoke bars, beer gardens and brothels in Cambodia live with dignity, equality and hope.  That’s a beautiful vision.  Precious Women was founded by Solida Seng and it is the first outreach of its kind to women in Phnom Penh.  Each Friday, Precious Women outreach teams go out to Beer Gardens, Karaoke Bars and brothels in Phnom Penh to build relationships with both the women working as prostitutes there and the owners of the establishments themselves.  Besides just spending time with the women and men in these places that they work, the women are invited to come to the Precious Women’s Center and take advantage of the program that is offered. 
Yesterday, I was able to be a part of the Women Fellowship Party where about 25 girls from beer gardens and karaoke bars were in attendance.  This gathering aims to provide support and a safe environment to share personal stories and hear about alternative opportunities for these women through games, Q&A time, skits and dramas, educational documentaries or speakers, and fellowship.  I loved watching how the girls responded to the women (who had themselves come out of working in beer gardens and karaoke bars) that led the event.  Their personal stories as well as their enthusiasm to support and help the girls was well received.  The girls listened intently to the vision that Precious Women wanted for them—one of hope, healing and transformation.  
Church Involvement:
Precious Women also aims to empower local churches to be involved in this issue by providing outreach manuals, conducting trainings on women’s rights, dignity and vulnerability of the women, and encourages churches to join in the outreach that takes place every week. 
Counseling Program:
Precious Women provides counseling to women who desire a safe, confidential place to talk openly about alternative options, career training advice, and resources to help them make the transformation out of the beer gardens, karaoke bars and brothels. 
Home Visits:
If a woman desires to receive vocational training, Precious Women will conduct a home visit to meet with the woman’s family.  Precious Women discusses the importance of education and money management, as well as the dangers that exist for their daughters who work at night.  Precious Women ask that the family agree and commit to help their daughter transition out of her current situation into a safe, healthy and fair employment opportunity. 
Vocational Training:
Precious Women have a home to provide girls with a temporary, safe and empowering environment while they attend vocational training. PW provides the women with financial support during their stay.  PW works with the girls to determine what their skills and interests are before establishing what they will receive their training on.  PW also provides capital loans to women who want to start their own business.  Currently, PW is planning to open a Bride Shop in January 2012.  Many women cannot afford to buy all the different outfits that a traditional Khmer wedding requires.  This shop will provide clothing, shoes, make-up, house and car decorations, and fruit arrangements for women to rent for their weddings.  PW’s vision for the Precious Bride Business is to provide one more additional opportunity for women to practically work and receive alternative income. 
Radio Broadcasting:
PW speaks on the radio every Tuesday about women’s issues and women’s rights.  Women are encouraged to call into the radio station to ask questions and receive help without their identity being revealed to anyone. 
One additional thing I love and appreciate about Precious women is that it is founded and operated by Khmer women.  The women that had the original vision and are implementing the program understand the culture and the women that enter through their doors better than any foreigner could without first spending years in Cambodia.  These women are teaching other women to live transformed lives and to be part of transforming the lives of others who experience brokenness.  Through the work of Precious Women, the lives of women are changing, families are changing, the men of Cambodia are changing and the very foundation of this country is being altered because of their work and others like them. 

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