“I lacked self-confidence because nobody mentored me on how to become a good leader. To cover up my limitation, I would be angry and aggressive. Some of the people followed me but I was not a good example.”
Ros Phann is the village chief of Prey Saak. Now 60-years-old, he has led his people through a lot in his lifetime. Originally a farmer, leadership did not come naturally to him.
“I did not have good relationship with others, and I preferred to work alone,” he explains. “I did not listen to others’ ideas and I followed what I think. I had no skill in facilitation also, so, whatever I thought was right, I did it. …I did not think holistically.”
Food for the Hungry (FH) helped local leaders in Prey Saak organize themselves into a Community Development Committee (CDC) of which Phann became the main leader. He attended trainings on the roles and responsibilities of leaders, leadership values, and how to resolve problems through active listening. Phann believes working with FH not only improved his leadership skills but was the catalyst to a full-scale community renewal.
“My way of leadership changed a lot,” Phann describes the personal impact of FH training. “I started to listen to others’ ideas. I facilitated my team to create long term and short term goals that will benefit all the people in my community. I can speak softly and politely with others and ask their opinions about certain issues happening in our community. I [have] become more considerate and take into consideration the need of the most vulnerable.”
As a result of his strong and compassionate leadership, Phann’s community is flourishing.
“I’ve seen remarkable changes in our community for just a short period of time. We’re able to fix our road, built a bridge and a space for the children’s club. The old habits of the people of not participating in the meetings, dirty environment, and unhealthy practices were turned into changed behaviors. When you visit our community, people are starting to build toilets, clean their surroundings, make garbage bins, and take care of the health of their children.”
Phann also speaks to his own, personal transformation: “Now, I can say that I am better. I still have a lot to learn but I can lead my team [and] prepare good plans for our community. I feel that my heart is full.”
When asked what his hopes for the future are, Phan doesn’t hesitate: “For me, I want to enhance myself more to become a good leader. I will also train the younger generation to become good leaders in the future. I want my community to be a community where people think about each other, forgive each other for whatever limitations we have, share each other’s resources, and our children are going to school.
“They [FH] came to enhance our capacity so that we can help ourselves. I am proud as a leader that I found the way on how things can be better. We know that we do not have everything, but we believe that we can always find a way to address the problem.”