Change Magazine September 2017 Issue - Page 48

D: What problem is Dare & Dream aiming to address? L: Cambodian girls face various barriers to attain any level of education and more so for higher education. Some of those barriers include poverty, security, cultural norms and restrictions, insecurity, poor infrastructures, long distances, lack of sanitation and clean bathrooms, etc. Dare and Dream seeks to address the following four issues: (1) Reducing girls drop-outs, (2) Building female role models, (3) Building future female leaders, and (4) Breaking cultural concepts. D: What sets Dare & Dream apart from other initiatives that aim to address the same problem in Cambodia? D: Could you tell us about Dare & Dream? L: Dare & Dream started in early June of 2017. It is an online/offline consulting platform working with rural girls from low income families. The aims are to empower girls to pursue higher education, to inspire them to chase their dreams, and to build a girls’ networks platform to help them go into further education. Our online platform refers to mentorship support requiring internet access. The girls can contact us by any communication channel such as email, Facebook, mobile phone, skype, and the like. Our offline platform refers to direct meetings and consultations in Phnom Penh or in any province. 44 Dare and Dream services include: (1) Mentorship support, (2) Scholarship Support that includes proofreading applications and mock interviews, (3) Matching young women to favorable universities, internships and careers, and (4) trainings which include providing leadership opportunities for mentees or membership and training services for other stakeholders or partners. D: Who comprises the founding team of Dare & Dream? Would you like to share what inspired you all to join together to start it? L: We are a team of three Cambodian women: Ms. Laitheam Eang, a sophomore student majoring in Global Studies and Social Entrepreneurship at Change Magazine September 2017 Thammasat University, Bangkok, Thailand, Ms. Kagna Mourng, a graduate from the University of Hawaii, USA, and a fellow of the Asia Pacific Leadership Program, and Ms. Saren Keang, a Master’s student in Sustainable International Development and Coexistence and Conflict at Brandeis University, USA. One of the motivations that connect us is our deep passion to empower young women in Cambodia. That, obviously, binds us in the first place. But as we got to know each other more closely, we learned that we also shared very similar backgrounds that have brought us to where we are now— from unprivileged rural families through faith, hard work, and perseverance. L: Dare & Dream provides first hand support since girls lack capacity, then we sharpen them with our various support mechanisms as described above and match them with the opportunity. Finally, we empower them to be self-sufficient and be able to take some spare time to volunteer helping other girls to role models like them too. D: What is (are) the comparative edge(s) of Dare & Dream? L: Our service is more direct and closer to the target group which provides room for them to interact with the expert and coordinator faster and more convenient. It is marketable and more innovative than other traditional organizations. D: Have you developed a prototype service? If so, what is it? L: The prototype services in the online platform is by FB public groups, closed groups, email and phone communication. We have started it about a month ago. We want to know the number of girls who are able to reach to us online, what are the main challenges and difficulties in online communication, what their needs are, what we can offer them, and what can we improve in the next three months. So far, our routine contact is by phone. D: What have you done so far to solve the problem? Did you encounter any difficulties? How did you get over it? Have you made any improvements to Dare & Dream since then? L: Since we have started our project in early June 2017, it is only in the first phase of our startup process. Our current problems are lack of human resources like local experts, limited funding, developing a good strategic plan, and lack of technical support to design the online platform. Another issue is the communication between the three founders. We are living in three different countries which makes it a main constraint to come up with detailed plans quickly. However, these problems cannot stop us to make Dare & Dream happen in the beginning of 2018. We schedule bi-monthly meetings by Skype to prepare our strategic plan, to update our work and arrange the tasks among the three of us. Recently, we have a partnership with Development Innovation Insider and a few organizations. D: Would you like share something that touched you the most since you started Dare & Dream? L: The most touching thing since we started Dare & Dream is seeing girls gradually becoming fearless and believing in themselves. Some girls have reached us online in The online platform is a new concept for Cambodian girls in rural areas. With the increase in the use of smart phones and the internet, we believe that Cambodian girls will be familiar in using new technology such as Facebook, email, skype or other applications. At the same time, we would like to train these girls how to access social media and to get benefit from technology. Change Magazine September 2017 45