Prak Sokhany (born 1958) has channeled her life and work into peace building and conflict resolution in Cambodia, where people are still traumatized by the wounds of war. For nearly ten years, she and her organization, Australian Catholic Relief (ACR), with its allies in peace work, have trained NGO workers, government officials and entire communities in conflict resolution and peace building. Prak works with the grassroots, designs training programs, facilitating training and networking with numerous institutions.
Prak Sokhany has dedicated her life to making a better, more peaceful world, where people work together to create a civil society and collaborate to solve problems that cause violence. After surviving the Khmer Rouge regime, she has had to deal with the reality of Cambodian society after the war, where people have lost trust in each other and violence continues to wreak havoc on their culture and daily life. In 1998, Prak, a former schoolteacher, formed a volunteer group to train municipal officers in Phnom Penh in conflict resolution. They developed the training curriculum, which focuses on changing participants’ own behavior in problem solving and on strategies to make these changes. Prak Sokhany says that even people involved in conflict resolution did not know how to do it properly. "Participants acknowledged that they often made mistakes, that they dominated the conflict resolution process and threatened the parties in conflict if they failed to reach a resolution. Now they have knowledge and skills. They have learned to ask each party in the conflict to speak about their problems and to identify the conflict’s root causes." The volunteer group was transformed into the Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT). Along with ACT, Sokhany and ACR have provided training in conflict resolution, peace building and capacity building for NGOs, government officials and communities. The NGO staff that Sokhany and ACT have trained have become trainers themselves and have facilitated the conflict resolution process in the communities where they work. "Perhaps the deep wounds of the war are impossible to erase. Perhaps we can only come to understand it better. Yet, through conflict resolution and peace building, we may evolve out of it into a better world," she says.
Australian Catholic Relief (ACR)