Sustainability, Staff Development, and the Power of a Quiet River

Sustainability, Staff Development, and the Power of a Quiet River

Caring for kids by caring for our staff

Cambodia is a primarily agricultural country, and the product that covers most of the landscape, from Battambang to Svay Rieng, is rice. That means that Cambodian people understand the principle of only being able to reap where you sow (or stung, as they call the painstaking process of planting stalks of rice, one by one). While Children in Families isn’t planting or harvesting rice, we do want to produce the best possible quality of care for the kids who come to us. That means that we have to sow into our staff, so this past month we attended our staff retreat in Kampot Province, near Cambodia’s coast in the south.



Work, Rest, Play

“Sowing” in this context is an interesting balance, and needs to sit somewhere on the line between recharging through rest, and charging up through training. For CIF that meant that our three days away from the office took in some of both.

The work came in the form of training and personal reflection. Day One saw them meeting together to learn more about the principles of wholistic, situational assessment. Moving forward, at Children in Families we will really be picking up our assessment quality by introducing a new tool that will track the well-being of our kids across a wide range of factors, consistently over time. Talking about these factors together, staff discussed the ways in which we can look beyond the obvious in assessment, coming up with some new ideas, and encouraging one another in what they already knew.








Day Two covered further topics, with training from an external provider on ways for staff to increase their productivity, performance and confidence. Later on Naomy, our Programs Director, gave some input on Child Development, engaging the staff in role-plays to help them think more deeply about the content she presented.

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Of course, the other key element to a staff retreat is, you know, the “retreat” bit, and that can’t be achieved through training and role-plays alone. So we had plenty of time in our program for staff to chat together, eat together, play together, and enjoy seeing the green of Kampot’s hills, the hear the sounds of its rivers and waterfalls. It’s a bit of a photo-fest below, but hopefully you enjoy seeing our staff bonding and recharging together as much as they enjoyed doing it. Well, almost as much, anyway.


The steep sides of the mountain in Kampong Trach, in Kampot’s north, gave some of our staff a challenge as we scaled them for the view. Well worth it in the end though.


The Sanctuary is a Christian ministry on the banks of the Kampot River which aims to provide a place for people in demanding jobs and ministries to have time and space to recuperate. 



The Waters of Teuk Chou provide welcome cool against Cambodia’s hot sun, for humans and others.


And for those who didn’t want to get too wet, there was always shade, conversation and company.


At day’s end, whether after training or play, the Kampot river runs quiet in the dusk, flanked by palm trees, and watched over by the surrounding hills.

Sustainability, Staff Development, and the Power of a Quiet River