The CSO Impact Hub Phnom Penh and Oxfam in Cambodia collaboratively organised the ‘Berk Chet’ event, also known as ‘Open Your Heart,’ which took place on September 3 at Factory Phnom Penh, a versatile creative hub.

The event served as a vibrant celebration and platform for raising awareness about the remarkable diversity and inclusivity within five distinct groups of rights holders: individuals with disabilities, LGBTI communities, women who have survived violence or exploitation, elderly and vulnerable youth, and ethnic minorities.

According to a joint press release, the event served as a crucial milestone for the NOW-Us! Award Cambodia project, which focuses on enhancing diversity and social inclusiveness.

This initiative seeks to foster closer collaboration between various organisations and the seven outstanding teams chosen to implement the NOW-Us! Award Cambodia projects.

The press release highlighted that the ‘Berk Chet’ festival featured a wide range of activities, including knowledge exchange, team-building exercises, and presentations showcasing the projects of the NOW-Us! Award Cambodia winners.

The festivities also included captivating performances that honoured the achievements of these distinct communities while shedding light on their unique circumstances.

Notably, this marked the second iteration of the Berk Chet Festival, which was first held in Battambang on August 27.

Phean Sophoan, Oxfam country director, expressed her organisation’s pleasure in collaborating with partners to promote inclusiveness and diversity.

She emphasised their commitment to the “Leave no one behind” policy, enabling stakeholder groups within the community to fully engage in social development.

“The ‘Berk Chet’ festival celebrates the remarkable efforts of the seven NOW-Us! Award recipients in Cambodia. Through these activities, marginalised and minority groups have been empowered to challenge prejudices, amplify their voices, and enhance accessibility by embracing diversity and inclusion,” she added.

She added that the festival’s ultimate goal is to equip these communities with innovative and context-specific approaches, enabling them to participate fully in decision-making processes related to community and societal development.

Simultaneously, Melanie Mossard, CEO of Impact Hub Phnom Penh, expressed pride in organising the festival as a platform to showcase inspiring initiatives that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

She believes that the ‘Berk Chet’ Festival offers a unique opportunity to bring these vital issues into the mainstream, both in Battambang and Phnom Penh, exposing the work of these organisations to a broader audience.

The “NOW-Us! Award Cambodia” is implemented by Impact Hub Phnom Penh in partnership with Voice through Oxfam. Through innovative initiatives, such as capacity-building boot camps, tackling the root causes of challenges faced by stakeholders, and promoting creative solutions, the initiative’s aim is to empower individuals and raise awareness about inclusion and diversity.

Additionally, the programme places significant emphasis on fostering both professional and personal growth, encompassing areas like project management and financial skills.