Meet Zarah Jane Almeida who works as a producer for Mlup Baitong's Environmental Advocacy Radio Program. She has been blogging about her work and life at Sreisaat Adventures in Cambodia since January, 2004. Born in Roxas City, known as the seafood capital of the Philippines, she graduated from the University of the Philippines with a degree in mass communications. She moved to Cambodia in April, 2000.
1. How and why did you find yourself in Cambodia?
Five years ago, after more than three years of working as a TV producer, I lost my enthusiasm for my work and resigned. My sister was working for an NGO as a volunteer agriculturist in Cambodia and encouraged me to take a job there.
2. Tell us about your work in Cambodia with the NGO, Mlup Baitong.
Mlup Baitong’s mission is to address the problem of deforestation in Cambodia, with a focus on educating the public on conservation of natural resources. I manage the over-all production of the radio program, attending production meetings and conducting in-house training for the local radio program staff so that they can take over my place after a period of time. It was difficult to learn to the language at first! Now, I enjoy working with my colleagues, traveling, searching for stories, interviewing people and listening to their stories and just interacting with them. Although I come from a different culture, it doesn't hamper my work. It is a benefit.
3. How does your NGO use technology to support your advocacy and education work?
Our organization gets feedback from listeners of our radio program via email and sms text messages. (I got an exchange deal with a local mobile phone company and they gave us a free dial number so that listeners can call in during the broadcast for free for one year.)
After broadcast, we re-edit the material and distribute for pagoda broadcasts in the provinces during holy days. The monks broadcast it through the pagoda public address system, a rudimentary system composed of a cassette player connected to an amplifier. The monks help us with our environmental education and advocacy work. I've written about this program on my blog and posted photographs on flickr.
The Community Forestry committee was also provided with a digital camera to aid them in documenting illegal activities that they've encountered during their regular patrols inside the forest. The pictures are very vital evidence when the committee members write reports to local authorities or our organization to seek assistance. The committee members of Community Forestry and Ecotourism projects were trained in basic computer skills and English language skills.
4. Tell us about your blog?
I started my blog with the main goal of keeping in touch with family, relatives and friends from far and wide. I want them all to know about my work in Cambodia, and life here in general. My Indonesian friend introduced me to blogging. Using chats, she taught me how to start a blog and upload pictures.
When I started to get lots of visitors, I realized why not blog more about my work with Mlup Baitong? Although my blog is primarily for family and friends, I am inspired to read comments left by visitors saying that they learn more and something different about Cambodia’s environment.