Several groups in Poipet are interested in teaching youth about sexual and reproductive health from a holistic, Biblical approach. We are fortunate here in Cambodia to have a Khmer language education book produced by YWAM. The book is written from a Christian perspective, but it is still neutral enough to be used in a non-Christian setting as well.
I have to admit I felt a bit overwhelmed as I prepared for the class. First was the difficulty in finding a translator. Every woman who speaks English well enough to translate either works full-time for an NGO (charity) already or has babies and stays home (which means, no time to help). There are a few single guys who speak good English, but in this conservative culture (where the guys wouldn't know any of the information and I'd have to explain in detail about the male and female anatomy and sexuality), I just wasn't comfortable sitting down and talking through all that for a few hours before the training!
Fortunately, I ran into a friend of mine who I worked with at the clinic last year. She now has a baby but she was happy to come and help me for the morning. Because her baby is probably the most chilled-out kid I've ever met, I knew it wouldn't be a big problem.
If you want to understand culture regarding sexuality, just look at all the slang words and euphemisms people use for sexuality. I realized my translator didn't understand phrases like "sleeping together" or "making love" - phrases that sound innocent, or don't make sense, to those who speak English as a second language, but phrases that are loaded to those who come from English-speaking countries. I had to be careful to use "explicit" language for everything, so my translator would understand!
We had a lot of laughs during the teaching, and I was surprised at how open the adults asked questions and discussed different aspects of sexuality, especially for the single adults. It reminds me how much people want to learn, if they are only given the opportunity. Unfortunately, for many Cambodians (especially the girls), the less you know, the more "pure" you are - so many youth are embarrassed or ashamed to ask questions of their parents.
Over the next few weeks, I will be working with Freedom Stones, coaching their teachers through the lessons. I think it's better for the youth to hear directly from a Khmer adult, instead of someone translating for me - especially since we have separated the boys and girls for the classes. I hope the youth come away from the class with a deeper respect for their bodies and appreciation for how God created them.