In this blog post, we’ll be exploring the journey of Bong Watd, an education enthusiast who made it her mission to contribute to developing her community.
Bong Watd was born into a family of 5. She spent her childhood walking to school every day and helping with household chores and the family business.
Bong Watd’s parents instilled in her a strong work ethic and the importance of education. Her mother advised her to work hard on her studies, think carefully about housework, and be self-reliant even after marriage. Bong Watd’s father also played an essential role in her life, and she fondly remembers the amount of quality time he spent with her as a child. She now does the same with her own children.
Bong Watd believes education is the key to wisdom, breaking barriers, and achieving a happy life. To her, education means openness to learning and sharing with others, which helps both oneself and the people around us. She also believes that learning never stops and is a lifelong process that we continue to do even after leaving school.
“As I began my journey into the world of education, I found myself seeking opportunities to help others. In 2009, I discovered an organization called Youth Star and began volunteering with them. During this time, I first became involved with PEPY, an organization dedicated to improving education in rural Cambodia.”
Bong Watd learned about PEPY through a job announcement on Bongthom.com, and she immediately applied for the position of Program Officer. After working diligently in this role, she was promoted to Program Manager and continued to work in PEPY’s former Child-to-Child Community Program from 2009 to 2012.
Her passion for education and helping others led her to become a PEPY Consultant in 2012, where she supported the Young Leader Project. This project aimed to develop leadership skills in Cambodian youth and help them become active members of their communities. Through her work with PEPY, she developed her skills and gained valuable experience in the field of education.
Bong Watd joined PEPY’s board after she was invited in 2013. She wanted to gain experiences as a board member and contribute to PEPY’s mission. In addition, Bong Watd loved the working environment at PEPY, where she could continue to develop her leadership skills.
As a board member, Bong Watd’s goals were: personal growth and growth together, supporting PEPY’s Executive Director in creating strategy, and contributing to the PEPY community.
She was drawn to PEPY’s working culture, which emphasized learning and sharing, and was impressed by the dedication of its staff. In addition, Bong Watd appreciated that PEPY’s values matched her own, particularly its commitment to transparency.
When PEPY’s former Executive Director, Sarakk Rith, pursued his Master’s degree in the United States, Bong Watd was selected to be the new director in 2021. While serving as the Executive Director, Bong Watd experienced even more personal growth and professional development. Bong Watd significantly improved her management and leadership skills, including problem-solving, decision-making, communication, and fundraising skills. She also had the opportunity to network with entrepreneurs and other NGOs, which helped raise awareness about PEPY’s mission and build strategic partnerships. These collaborations have led to a strong partnership with the government, DoE, and POE.
Another highlight for her was her contribution to PEPY’s organizational development. Bong Watd improved PEPY’s HR guideline documents for staff performance, recruitment, and our programs. Her leadership was instrumental in creating a solid foundation for PEPY to continue its work and expand our reach in the future.
Bong Watd’s journey as the Executive Director of PEPY has had challenges and lessons learned.
To make sure our program runs smoothly, we discussed finding the best way to practice for all the programs. The second challenge was about funding. It was hard for us to find new funding and new partnership during the covid time. Due to many organizations experiencing their own challenges partnerships were very limited.
Despite these challenges, Bong Watd was able to learn and grow as an ED. One of the critical lessons she learned was to apply the following four skills more effectively: management leadership, decision-making, pitching, and practical skills. She plans to apply these skills in her business, the Doursanak Training Center, in the future.
Bong Watd’s second plan is to publish a book at the end of 2023. The book will be called “Love for Inspiring Women” and will be aimed at women over 30 who have families, businesses, and children. Bong hopes the book will help women learn to love themselves and find happiness even when they are busy with work and family life. She is also looking forward to spending time more time with her family and continuing to work on her work and life balance.
Bong Watd shared, “As I wrap up my time as the Executive Director of PEPY, I want to express my gratitude to the PEPY community and share my hopes for the future of this incredible organization.
My hope for the PEPY community is to continue to support and grow the organization, even with new leadership. I encourage everyone to join me in contributing to PEPY’s mission in whatever way possible, whether through financial donations, ideas, or simply spreading the word about PEPY’s work.”
Bong Watd is hopeful that the new ED will take time to deeply understand PEPY’s mission and bring new and creative ideas to the table. She would also like to see the new ED supporting and empowering each team member to become a leader in their own right. Finally, she hopes the new ED will lead with PEPY’s values in mind, making decisions that align with the organization’s core beliefs and principles.
In closing, Bong Watd wants to thank the PEPY community again for allowing her to serve as their Executive Director. It has been a truly fulfilling journey, and she is excited to see the impact PEPY will continue to make in the years to come.