Story of Change – Ms. Ou Vanda through Cambodian Ageing Network

A 63 years old active woman, Mrs. Ou Vanda who is currently a president of Cambodian Ageing Network (CAN) told that she used to feel depressed and isolated from other people after she got retired. Mrs. Vanda is a former deputy director at Provincial Health Department in Battambang. When she has reached 60 years old, she has to enter retirement even she still able to accomplish in her role. “I feel discriminated and look down from a few former colleagues at some workplace after I got retired”. They may value only when I was in position, she said”.

However, it is not a challenge to her at this retirement age. Mrs. Vanda is very interested of having an Older People Association (OPA) in her village while she has learned and involve with HAC a lot in cooperation works to support older people, particularly on health sector within her former mandate. She was motivated and empowered by HAC to set up an OPA in the village. Shas started mobilising older people in the village who have common interest to join in forming up of an OPA. The OPA in her village is finally established within February 2018 and Mrs. Vanda was voted as an OPA leader among 67 members while the majority of them are women and over 60 years old.

Through her active leading and good model in supporting older people in this newly OPA, Mrs. Vanda was invited to join in a series of dialogues and consultative meetings with other OPAs and Federations on the establishment of an alliance for older people. Upon the establishment of an alliance called Cambodian Ageing Network, Mrs. Vanda was successfully voted among 18 founder institution as a President. She was never expected about that before but she would try her best to lead this newly CAN moving ahead and seek support to address about ageing issues, particularly on health-related sectors, she said.

The project has provided a series of capacity building and training to this newly CAN in terms of advocacy works (Age Demands Action), SDGs, Human Rights, Disability, and other key topics for all members of CAN in order to accomplish in their committed strategy plan and goal. “I and most members of CAN gained a lot of knowledge and improved capacity to work for older people. I feel no more depressed and discriminated from other gains upon learning from several training from HAC. I will stand up and show others about what we can do as an older person”, Mrs. Vanda said.

Within these 3 years, Mrs. Vanda has made a lot of her efforts in collaboration with all members in advocacy work and engaging with multi-stakeholder and key government through various dialogue and consultative meeting to mainstream about ageing issues as well as to seek their support in addressing to the needs of older people. “It would be really hard for me to convince the government, particularly at national levels to support older people. Having this newly network as CAN, I could represent the number of older people within several provinces and gained more confidence to talk to the government about the needs of older people”.

As a result, from a series of engagement meetings and dialogues with key governments such as MoSVY, two CAN’s committees include Mrs. Vanda and her deputy president were nominated to join as the members of Technical Working Group for the review on National Ageing Policy 2017-2030. “I felt very empowered and motivated of being a member in this technical working group with MoSVY. I could say, it is my first time ever to join with the national government to work on policy level”.

Mrs. Vanda is not only a member of the Technical Working Group of MoSVY for Nation Ageing Policy review but she also was nominated to join as the member of another​ Technical Working Groups among 5 institutions include MoSVY, PoSVY, PPS, CAN, and HAC for the development of IEC materials and Videos production related to National Ageing Policy and Age Discrimination.