Our History


1992 – 1993 New beginnings

In 1992 the Khmer Buddhist Society, founded by Cambodian-American social workers, began training village volunteers in social services skills. The volunteers then provided direct social services to communities. The initial training (supported by USAID/PACT) taught 130 community leaders from eleven provinces. A relationship quickly formed with the Ministry of Social Affairs and in November 1992 the group opened the Kampong Speu Training Center in a building provided by the Ministry. During the next two years, 200 trainees graduated through the five-month intensive program.

1994 – 1999 Strengthening the foundation for social worker education

In 1994, and for the next five years, the team traveled around the country, training 600 staff of the Ministry of Social Affairs (supported by PACT/USAID and then UNICEF).
In 1994, in cooperation with the Cambodian Mental Health Program, a model Social and Mental Health Services (SMHS) project was started in Kampong Speu. SMHS provides home-based client-centered counseling and case management services to people with psychosocial problems ranging from severe mental illness to post-traumatic stress, and relationship and substance abuse. This program has been supported over the years by USAID/Pact, JICA and Louvain Development.
In 1999 SSC expanded its community-based work with the launch of the STAR project (supported by US Dept. of State/PACT), which combined psychosocial interventions with economic empowerment. In 2005 (with support of ICCO), the program was modified, and drew on participatory drama techniques, to facilitate therapeutic community dialogues and promoted strong family and community relationships.
2000 – 2006 Consolidating and learning
Beginning in 2003 (and with support from the GTZ Promotion of Women’s Rights Program) SSC began developing a high quality training institution. In 2004 SSC renovated a training building in the grounds of the Institute for Public Health in Phnom Penh and continued to build capacity of its team of Khmer trainers. A basic Social Work Skills training for people who have experienced gender-based violence (GBV) was launched in 2004. An intermediate Social Work curriculum was delivered in 2005.
The Community-based Livelihood Enhancement Program, CBLE, began in Oddar Meanchay, Siem Reap in 2004. CBLE was supported by ADB/CARE and drew on innovative learning technologies (such as “blue cloth” community psychosocial assessment, oral histories and participatory drama) to facilitate community dialogues through which villagers were able to recognize and build on their own resilience.
The Sexual Assault Centre (supported by EU) opened in Kandal Province in 2006. The Centre provides a safe residence for people who have experienced gender-based violence as well as an open-door centre to allow people to access an array of supportive services including counselling, information and referral, and legal and medical care. The Centre also serves as a base for community staff who provide support to women and children affected by gender based violence in their homes and communities, so as to encourage families and communities to take on the role of rehabilitation and reintegration.
2007 Looking ahead
A 2007 evaluation of the Training Centre found that the quality of the course was exceptionally high and its impact on trainees powerful. The evaluation also indicated the potential to expand the Centre’s offerings. The SSC strategic plan was finalized and an implementation strategy was developed that will allow it to expand and deepen its work.