By Brooke Loving-Bagwell, PLF Intern

Every Sunday, eight teenage girls cycle from their urban dormitory to the PLF office to participate in PLF’s three-part media program that incorporates blogging, photography, and videography to help them learn to tell their stories and give them the tools with which to share them.  Catered specifically upper high school girls, this unique program intends to shed light on the universal challenges that young women face as well as capture the individual narratives of its participants.

Over the past several weeks, the girls have watched the documentary, Girl Rising, a compilation of nine stories from girls in developing countries that struggle to obtain an education. Pushed to think critically about the social status of women around the world, it is no surprise that by consequence the girls have begun to examine their own social condition.

Though their stories are inherently different, each girl who attends this workshop can identify with the struggle of gaining a secondary school education. Having left their homes in the countryside to come to Siem Reap for school, each girl as well as their families, has sacrificed much for the prospects of a better life.

Group dialogue surrounding the Girl Rising documentary has enabled the girls to see that their individual stories are part of a larger narrative concerning women’s access to education. In understanding their connection to the greater reality, the girls have recognized their power to shape the global dialogue and affect change.

The enlightening group discussions have served as an impetus for action and the girls are eager to begin the final videography component of the Girl Rising program. In the coming weeks, the participants will learn how to capture, craft, and disseminate their own story using hand-held video cameras and basic editing software. The short films they create will then go into the running to be featured at the 2016 Angkor Wat International Film Festival in Siem Reap next February.

With some guidance and a few tools, the girls have truly risen to acknowledge and understand the bigger picture as well as their own capacity to be change-makers in the world. Their stories have the potential to bring new light and perspective to the challenges that women face in Cambodia. Keep on the lookout for their stories which will be available on the PLFMediaLab YouTube channel in the upcoming months!