How Working in Human Rights is Personal for RWI Staff


Meet Dararoth Ke. Since 2014, Dararoth has assisted RWI as a programme officer in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. He believes his experience growing up in a remote village in Cambodia, where people are not always taught their human rights, helps him as a human rights educator in his home country.

Darartoh grew up the youngest in his family raised by a single mother in the Kampot province of Cambodia, a rural province located near the Vietnam border about three hours away from Phnom Penh. His father was killed during the Khmer Rouge revolution that lasted from 1975 to 1976. Darartoh further describes:

 My hometown is a very remote village. The primary school was an hour walking from my house. There were no other resources – no newspapers or printed materials that could be easily accessed for reading. I went to school for half the day, and the other half was spent taking care of the animals.

Dararoth’s journey from high school English teacher to the human rights educator started when he moved to Phnom Penh and found a job with the Cambodia Defenders Project, an organization that provides free legal service and capacity building in human rights law. He explains:

The interest started from there when I didn’t have any law background. I would listen to the questions from the participants – they do not know what human rights are, they do not know what legal marriage is, they don’t really know what domestic violence is. Raising awareness and providing training for those people about basic rights that they can enjoy and will make a difference in their lives.

Dararoth (second from the right) and his wife (third from the left) at an RWI training event in Bangkok in 2004

At this job, Dararoth was chosen to participate in a RWI workshop in Thailand on women’s rights and children’s rights. Dararoth admits that he is forever grateful to RWI for the opportunity because it was where he met his future wife.

“During the time, there were only two people selected from Cambodia – one was me and the other was my wife. We did not know each other before that,” says Dararoth. “I remember after that the Raoul Wallenberg was both in our hearts and minds.”

Dararoth’s current work involves coordinating human rights education programmes for judges, prosecutors, and court clerks at the Royal Academy for Judicial Professions (RAJP) and students at the Lawyer Training Center. As a former teacher, he says the times he gets to teach are the most rewarding part of his job.

I believe that working with the future generation who will have careers in the justice sector is very motivating even though there are challenges regarding implementing what they learned from the programme within the current situation in Cambodia. Working with the younger generation especially helps them to think about what is right and what is not right in their decisions.