Monday, March 16, 2009

The beauty industry is proving a popular path

Written by Nora Lindstrom
Monday, 16 March 2009

A variety of schools, from expensive private courses to a free program offered by an NGO working with street children, offer a lucrative career choice.
Salon students at Friends International's Mith Samlanh tend to their customers last week.

From the roadside barber to the top-end salon, the beauty industry in Phnom Penh offers something for everyone, at very affordable prices. While the quality remains highly variable, recent market developments are likely to result in the offering of more professional services as more beauty therapist hopefuls seek formal training.

"We need to keep up with the market so our students can find good jobs," said Natalie Elverd, a technical adviser at the NGO Friends International, in reference to recent renovations at the beauty rooms and nail bar of the organisation's Mith Samlanh school.

"We did the upgrade because we need to follow changes in the local economy. There has been an increase in salons, so we wanted to improve placement opportunities for our young people by providing them with a better learning environment to gain increasingly better skills," she said, adding that the renovations were made possible thanks to aid from the Australian government.

The Mith Samlanh students, who were formerly street children, are given the opportunity to choose a career in hair and beauty care from a variety of other potential careers.

While the beauty rooms are open to the public only during the centre's monthly flea markets, the nail bar inside the Friends 'n' Stuff shop is open on a daily basis and allows students to gain experience in a real working environment. "The idea behind opening this business for the students is for them to have hands-on training with the public. It gives them the opportunity to gain confidence and improve their [future]
placement opportunities," Elverd said. She added that the training at Mith Samlanh also encompasses personal hygiene, customer service skills, how to care for and sterilise tools and how to keep the workspace clean.

"The training is of good standard, as well as constantly improving. The students are very popular and in high demand in the employment market. We often have job opportunities waiting for them," said Elverd, who herself has 20 years of experience from the Australian beauty industry.

There are several other beauty schools around Phnom Penh as well, catering to vast amounts of beauty therapist hopefuls, mainly girls. While the training at Mith Samlanh is free, many private schools charge significant amounts of money for their training programs.

Christina's Beauty School on Sihanouk Boulevard has achieved a good reputation in the Cambodian beauty industry during its almost decade- long existence. Here, an eight- to 10-month full course costs $590 and covers a curriculum of 19 subjects, while shorter courses focussing on specific skills are also available. Owner Sun Heang said the school is attended by more than 300 students, with recent graduates usually earning between $50 and $100 per month, depending on skills. "Once they finish the course, we also offer them the opportunity to work here in my salon, or else we help them find employment somewhere else," she said, adding that there is constant interest in the courses she offers.


Socheat Beauty School offers training similar to Christina's, albeit at a slightly higher cost of $750 for a full course. Srei Oun, 23, has been studying there for approximately eight months along with some 100 other trainees. "I like it here. I have a lot of friends, also. My favourite thing is cutting hair," she said, though was slightly insecure about how much longer it would take for her to master all the skills necessary for a good job in the industry.

Srei Oun's sister Srei Neang, 27, has been a hairdresser for 15 years and in contrast to her sibling learned the trade through working her way up. "I started by working at Central Market when I was 12 doing manicures and pedicures, but have since worked at the salons of many top-end hotels," Srei Neang explained. "You can make a good living as a hairdresser," she added.
A recent renovation at Mith Samlanh will offer more varied training for the growing number of students in the beauty sector.

Srei Neang thinks it's better to learn while working, as opposed to going to school. "You can practise in reality straight away, and also you earn money," she said, noting that formal training can be too expensive for many people. Nevertheless, she does acknowledge that there are many salons in Phnom Penh where staff have no training whatsoever and that this is a problem. "They can open anywhere, but they don't know how to do [the services provided]" she said.

As the industry develops, services provided are likely to improve as more salons have professionally trained staff. A downside of this may be an increase in prices, yet for the time being hair and beauty treatments remain affordable to most, even if their quality is sometimes dubious.

The revamped Nail Bar at Friends 'n' Stuff will be open for business at the next Friends flea market, on Saturday, March 28.

The mother of a Khmer worker who died in Thailand sought intervention

Khmer workers who died or were murdered in Thailand.

Khmer Sthapana newspaper
12th March, 2009
Reported in English by Khmerization

The mother of a Cambodian worker who died mysteriously while working in Thailand has asked the Cambodian government to intervene on her behalf to seek compensation for the death of her son.Mrs. Pa Sophea, mother of Min Sitha Saravuth, the dead worker, said in a press conference on 11th March that her 26 year-old son was recruited by a job agency in Phnom Penh, Human Power, to work legally in a glove factory in Thailand since 2006. On 20th December 2008, she received the news that her son had died from a fall off the ship. She claimed that the body of her son was cremated immediately without any investigation into the causes of his death.

She is appealing to the Cambodian government to intervene in helping her to seek compensation for her son’s death.

Mr. Ya Navuth, president of an NGO, CARAM Cambodia, also appeals to the Thai embassy and the Cambodian government to help her seek compensation because the victim had been recruited to work in Thailand legally by the employment agency, Human Power.

He said that the company where Mrs. Pa Sophea's son had worked before the accident that killed him should compensate her family and pay all his salaries for the 23 months duration that he had worked for the company.

Mr. Ya Navuth added that, this is not the first death of a Cambodian worker in Thai factories. Many Cambodian workers continue to die in Thai factories every year without any investigations for the causes of their deaths.

CARAM Cambodia estimated that, currently, there are about 80,000 Cambodians working legally and illegally in Thailand.

Canadia Bank's land-grabbing tactic in Reek Reay community: Fenced in the residents and grab their lands

A house in Reek Reay community, Phnom Penh city, is being demolished by the workers hired by the Canadia bank on 15 March 2009 (Photo: Ouk Savborey, RFA)

Canadia Bank starts to demolish Reek Reay community in Phnom Penh city

15 March 2009
By Ouk Savborey
Radio Free Asia
Translated from Khmer by Socheata
Click here to read the article in Khmer

On Sunday 15 March 2009, residents of the Reek Reay community, Group 46A, Village No. 8, claimed that workers for the Canadia Bank used force to demolish their homes, and the workers also fenced the residents, preventing them from leaving or coming into their homes if the residents refused to sell their lands to the Borey Bassac Park Villa company.
Bun That, a young man who resides in Village No. 8, Group 46A in the Reek Reay community, indicated that the bank set a price limit for each plot of land and the home on it to: either (1) $20,000 (in compensation) or (2) a row house measuring 4-meter-by-10-meter located in Dangkao distritct plus $10,000 if the residents agree to leave. If the residents refuse to leave, they will use force to demolish their houses, and they will fence in the residents’ houses to prevent them from leaving or coming into their houses. As of today, the bank’s workers have used force to demolish 9 homes already.

Bun That said: “The Cambodia Bank company fenced us in to grab our land, if we are involved in the sale of our land to other individuals.”

Chan Bunthol, a teacher at Sisowath high school who is protecting his home, said that the Canadia Bank’s workers act like thieves when they are using force to demolish people’s homes during a weekend: “ I don’t have time to go teach anymore now, because I am afraid they will come and demolish my home.”

Heng Samphoas, the president of the Reek Reay community, indicated that, up to now, some of the community residents have agreed to sell their homes to the Canadia Bank: “When they attack (to demolish) houses like this, we, as neighbors who are living nearby and we have not sold our homes yet, we have fear, then they (Canadia Bank) told us to go negotiate. They told us this or that date will be the end of the negotiations.”

Hor Vannak, chief of Village No. 8, Group 46A, Reek Reay community, said that in his village, there are more than 200 families living in more than 200 houses. Most of them are civil servants. He said that the village is connected to the road and the park of the Koh Pech development zone. Later on, the residents received offers to sell their lands and homes by the Canadia Bank and by a number of private groups.

He said that he is not certain about the number of residents who sold their lands to the Canadia Bank and the other private groups: “The region over the Reek Ray dike is located right on the city road, as well as on the path of the bridge crossing to Koh Pech, the second bridge (that is).”

Phal Sithon, the Tonle Bassac deputy commune chief, said that according the directive no. 157, dated 30 January 2009, issued by the Council of Ministers, decided that there will either be a development of the Reek Reay community at the same spot or the residents will receive another house measuring 4-meter-by-10-meter in the suburb as compensation plus $10,000 in cash.

Phal Sithon said: “A portion of the land belongs to Chumteav Hun Neng (Hun Sen’s sister-in-law), and on the other portion, people have built their homes to live on, but the Canadia Bank claimed that it was their land. I saw the development plan signed by Kep Chuktema (Phnom Penh city governor) in 2006, but the residents have been living here since the 90s.”

Regarding this issue, RFA could not reach a representative of the Canadia Bank on Sunday to obtain clarifications on this issue.

Heng Samrin's advisor accused of threatening American diplomats with weapon

Deum Ampil newspaper
13th March, 2009
Reported in English by Khmerization

An opposition MP has accused advisor to National Assembly president Heng Samrin (pictured) of threatening American diplomats with a weapon.

In a letter dated 11th March sent to Mr. Heng Samrin, Mr. Son Chhay, an MP for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), has requested him to launch an investigation into an allegation that one of his more than 100 advisors has used a gun to threaten U.S diplomatic staff in February 2009, while they were jogging along the Phnom Penh roadsThe letter alleged that, on 14th February 2009, while the diplomats were jogging near the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an armed man had threatened them with a gun. The man was later identified as Ob Sophy, an administrative officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who is also an advisor to National Assembly president Heng Samrin.

Mr. Son Chhay cannot confirm whether the allegation was true. However, he appeals to the authority to launch an investigation into this allegation.

Mr. Touch Naroth, Phnom Penh Police Commissioner, told Deum Ampil News on 12th March that the police has launched an investigation and identified the alleged culprit as Ob Sophy. He said: "We have launched an invetigation and found out that he (Mr. Ob Sophy) is head of one of the departments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but we have turned this case to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to resolve it with the American embassy."

The police Commissioner added: "We have questioned him regarding the allegation and he said that he dropped the gun ( and tried to pick it up). But when we got a complaint from the U.S embassy, we turned the case to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to resolve it with the American embassy."

Mr. Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that he has not received any information regarding the case, but said that he will launch an investigation into the allegation.

School girls sell themself for money for their term