I am a person who loves nature and beautiful landscapes, which led me to my work raising awareness among local people about environmental conservation. During my first job working on a survey of rice field fisheries in Kandal Province in 1995, I was shocked to see farmers mixing pesticides for their rice and vegetables by hand with no equipment or protection at all, which not only affects their personal health but also the health of consumers and the surrounding environment. This experience motivated me to become more engaged in my role as an environmental activist. Later, I arrived in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces in 1998 and saw the beautiful Mekong landscape and its rich ecosystem of big trees, flooded forests, free-flowing water, fishes, and all kinds of beautiful biodiversity, which motivated me to participate in conservation and management to sustain these natural resources.
I now have 21 years of experience in community-based natural resources management. I have worked as a researcher studying environment and natural resource management, and also as a trainer and mentor for local communities on various skills related to community forestry, community fisheries, community-based ecotourism, community action research, gender, and climate change adaptation and resilience. Currently, I am the Executive Director of the Culture and Environment Preservation Association (CEPA), where our mission is to improve good governance, sustainable livelihoods, enrich the natural environment and provide skills and technologies for sustainable development in Cambodia. I start by working and learning directly with communities to understand their real situation, know their needs, and engage with them to identify solutions as priorities and strategies. This helps me as a leader to develop programs and project activities to respond to community needs while also addressing environmental preservation, natural resource management, and livelihood improvement. I enjoy working directly with communities at the grassroots level and engaging local authorities and technical institutions at the sub-national and national level to all take part in the sustainable community development process.