SMARTgirls: Voices from Cambodia

This month, Degrees is sharing stories from participants in SMARTgirl, an FHI 360-led program aimed at preventing and mitigating the impact of HIV among entertainment workers living in Cambodia. The program provides peer education and social support, and improves access to HIV and reproductive health services. SMARTgirl treats entertainment workers respectfully and celebrates their positive qualities. SMARTgirl is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

  • Somany’s struggles

    Twenty-three-year-old Somany is a transgender entertainment worker who has HIV. Social stigma from the community and ostracism from her family leave Somany with a deep sense of loneliness and isolation. Speaking candidly to a SMARTgirl support group, she related how every day feels like a...

    Read More
  • Lang’s secret

    My name is Lang. My parents and friends back in my hometown don't know what I'm really doing here in Phnom Penh. They think I'm studying English and training in a wedding reception center...

    Read More
  • Sopheap’s strength

    Sopheap was born male but, at age 10, realized she identified as a girl. Because Sopheap’s parents feared other people’s responses, she wore boys’ clothing until age 17 “because I had to go to school and my parents didn’t like me wearing girls’ clothes.” Since then, Sopheap’s parents have...

    Read More
  • Sineng’s diagnosis

    Sineng, 21, works in a beer hall in Phnom Penh, where her job is to serve and entertain men. Sometimes she sells sex to make extra money. In the last month, she was diagnosed with HIV. Sineng fears how the virus will affect her health, her relationships and her job. Afraid and timid, she stood...

    Read More
  • Nguyen’s Day

    Twenty-six-year-old Nguyen's1 husband is a shoemaker, but his income of approximately 40 U.S. dollars a month is not enough to support them and their two children. To help make ends meet — including paying the monthly rent of 30 dollars on their one-room home — Nguyen supplements the household...

    Read More
  • Kimthy’s Story

    My name is Kimthy1 and I’m living far from home, where my son and mother are. I’m selling sex in Phnom Penh, and it’s a lifestyle I want to keep quiet about. My hometown community already dislikes me, so I’m not going to tell them what I do or that I’m HIV positive...

    Read More
  • Celebrating International Women’s Day all month

    Today is International Women’s Day. Rather than celebrate it for just one day, FHI 360 will pay tribute to women throughout the month of March by sharing stories from participants in the SMARTgirl program...

    Read More

1 Response

One Response to “SMARTgirls: Voices from Cambodia”

  1. Ruth Butcher on

    I feel privileged to read these testimonials;
    privileged that these young people have been courageous enough to share their stories &
    privileged to gain a better understanding of these issues because of the work of FHI (USAID)
    I hope this work will continue to grow in strength, support & with even greater results.
    Congratulations for your efforts & for the positive change you are making possible for these young people.