Monday, October 16, 2006

Veasna Chea - bringing 'good fortune'

Her name means 'good fortune' and that's exactly what she brings people who come into contact with her. Veasna Chea is a shining example of how one individual can make a real difference to the lives of so many others. She's not alone, there are many examples of individuals throughout Cambodia making a significant difference for the better. However, I'm proud to call Veasna, and her husband Peter Leth, good friends so here's a bit more about Veasna and her story so far.

Currently, Veasna is the associate director of the Harpswell Foundation and is their principal Cambodian partner, in the construction of a school in Tramung Chrum and in the last few months, completion of the first women's dormitory providing housing for females attending university in Phnom Penh. Veasna's father and three siblings were killed by the Khmer Rouge. Overcoming tremendous odds, she finished high school and then law school. She was the fourth woman to receive a law degree in Cambodia and graduated first in her class at the Royal University of Law and Economics. In the late 1990s, Veasna worked on human rights issues in the UN office in Phnom Penh. From 2001 to 2003, she worked with Fred Lipp and co-founded the Cambodian Arts and Scholarship Foundation. Veasna has also consulted for numerous NGOs in Cambodia. For the last two years, she has been working with the Harpswell Foundation and she recently received a masters degree from the School for International Training, based in the US. She is totally committed to helping disadvantaged young people, particularly the next generation of women leaders in Cambodia.

In October 2005, Veasna gave birth to a daughter, Angeline and together with husband Peter, they currently divide their time between Cambodia and Sri Lanka, where they have been assisting with the tsunami response. You can read Veasna's own words on the CASF website here. Her work with the Harpswell Foundation continues. The completion of the dormitory will enable girls selected from the provinces to receive previously unavailable university education and leading that program for change is Veasna Chea. Read about the Harpswell Foundation, founded by Dr Alan Lightman, here.

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