The fear of saying it wrong
by Sin Bolai, Project Coordinator, Conserve Indigenous People Languages Organization
Ann Khort is a young indigenous person living in Thmey Seda Village, Lumphat Disitrict, Rottanakiri Province. He is the eldest child of four siblings in his family. Growing up in a family who has little understanding about social work, Khort rarely felt any warm love, support or encouragement from his parents.
In 2021, Ann was in the 10th grade when he made the decision to drop out of school. His parents were unable to provide for the family members financially which is why he had to help out his family at their farm, among other tasks, to earn more income. After dropping out of school, Khort began to dislike socialising with people and hated talking. He did not have any friends that he could relate to which made him lonely. He became a person who did not like to participate in any activities or leave his house due to his lack of courage and social anxiety. Because of this, Khort lost opportunities to study or work; he was not able to show his potential which lead to him facing stress and depression.
One year later, in 2022, the Conserve Indigenous Peoples Language Organization (CIPL) collaborated with authorities to organise a youth group in Thmey Seda Village, and encouraged Khort to participate in meeting activities and various training courses. For instance, video making and editing, news article writing, leadership skills development and other Linking and Learning trainings and workshops. CIPL also helped strengthen Khort’s capacity in understanding laws and policies, as well as universal human rights and rights of indigenous peoples. There was also an opportunity for him to facilitate meeting events or activities with stakeholders including community, rightsholder groups and local authorities in order for him to strengthen his facilitation skill. At the end of 2022, CIPL recruited youth representatives wherein Khort was elected. He became a youth representative of CIPL and became well-known among youths as he actively led the youth groups in his village. In 2023, Khort turned into the best version of himself as he has developed his knowledge and abilities through participating and learning in the project and leading youth groups. He even gained so much confidence in talking with stakeholders such as local authorities and healthcare providers about the challenges and needs of his community.
Khort used his capacity to the fullest in amplifying the voices of the indigenous peoples, people with disabilities and widows in his community through engaging himself in meeting with local authorities and in video-making.
Through his contribution to the community, Khort received a lot of recognition from the community. The issues he raised related to widows and people with disabilities were taken care of seriously by the commune authorities, and some issues and needs were successfully addressed. For example, building houses for widows, building accessible toilet for women with disabilities and the provision of ID to 30 rightsholders and five families. He has also produced many videos featuring the challenges and needs of the rightsholders to help amplify their voices.
“The Indigenous Voice project of CIPL has helped build confidence and strength in youths who have dropped out of school like me. I am able to talk with my parents and change their mindset to understand the importance and benefit of education and social work, and encourage me to go back to school and continue my study. I want myself to make a better change and go back to school and allow myself for new opportunity in helping my community, my family and myself.”Ann Khort