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Home » Women’s section » Prize for women’s creativity in rural life » Laureates 2012 » San Vannary

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San Vannary

San Vannary

Southeast Asia · Cambodia

Preserving Traditional Knowledge, While Increasing Village Sustainability…

San Vannary (33) is a Cambodian mother of 3 young children, who has been working in positive activism throughout life. Though she is a young mother, Vannary also works for a non-governmental organization, traveling all over Cambodia working with women’s issues, such as abuse, HIV AIDS, and gender awareness. Fuelled by a love for her country and a commitment to social change for her people, Vannary has envisaged, designed and implemented projects and training ranging from rural gardens, decentralized democracy training, and sex and body awareness education. Vannary worked with “Helen Keller International” and ActionAid International-Cambodia, for over 12 years and has continued to collaborate with the same rural communities in her personal ventures. She has actively implemented 15 herbal gardens in 7 provinces during her time with ActionAid and has set up 10 women’s self-help health rooms with attached herbal gardens.


Ms. San Vannary is passionate about organic, self-sustainable gardens that counter the impacts of globalization and the privatization on food security. She advocates community participation, simple tools and replicable models to produce self-reliant, healthy food. Over a year ago, Vannary developed a plan for rural food security and village advocacy training projects in Dambok Khpos. Using perma-culture, which creates a self-sustaining ecosystem relying on renewable resources, Vannary’s project addresses the crucial irrigation issue in Cambodia, characterized by an abundance of water during the rainy season and a severe lack of water during the dry season.


Vannary has also become involved with efforts to revitalize the traditional Cambodian silk industry through a Mulberry tree-growing project. Recently, steep increases in silk yarn prices and the lack of efficient irrigation systems have resulted in the collapse of many Cambodian weavers. In addition to such community projects, Vannary has successfully run a tailor and handicraft business, Lotus Silk, employing 9 women who are widowed, disabled, or from vulnerable backgrounds.


Her ability to rally community members is phenomenal and can be witnessed in the incredible amount of community member involvement, motivation, and support she receives. Vannary uses her own ‘train the trainer’ technique, in which she not only provides people with knowledge and a new skill set, but also a belief in the person, that they too can grow and share what they have learned.


 Nune Sarukhanyan


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