Cambodia: Women’s group provides friendship, support and skills to urban refugees in Phnom Penh

26 August 2010|Lian Yong

A group of women gather in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 26 August 2010 to learn the basics of manicures and pedicures from Le Thi Hong, an asylum seeker from Vietnam. These classes give women skills that may help them become more self-sufficient and also act as an informal support group to combat isolation. (JRSAP)

Phnom Penh, 26 August 2010 – Le Thi Hong, an asylum seeker from Vietnam, teaches the basics of giving manicures and pedicures to a small group of asylum seekers and refugee women at the JRS office.

The women have formed new friendships among themselves and enjoy the opportunity to leave the house and indulge in some beauty therapy, while learning a skill that may help them become more self sufficient in the future.

After JRS learnt that Ms Hong was a skilled nail technician and that she had helped to support her family for over ten years with this profession, she was approached to teach some of the women supported by JRS.

‘I am happy to teach this class because all refugees are like a family together.  Everyone has left their home country for another country.  It is a very difficult life in Cambodia.  I want to share my experience and skills with them, and in the future they can support themselves.’

Classes are run twice a week and some students commute to the office themselves, while others are picked up and dropped off by a JRS social worker to ease the burden of transportation costs.  There is no formal language of instruction, as the students and teacher do not share any common language; rather, classes are taught by following example.  The women practice on each other, and members of JRS and Jesuit Services staff have taken advantage of the opportunity to get a free manicure and pedicure, without even leaving the office.

Lian Yong, Legal Officer JRS Cambodia

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