Susana Sngiem, Collaborative Coordinator, Cambodian Coalition
Who makes up the Cambodian Coalition?
The Cambodian Advocacy Collaborative (formerly known as the Cambodian Coalition) is a partnership of five Cambodian-serving agencies including the Cambodian Association of America, Families in Good Health, Khmer Girls in Action, Khmer Parents Association and United Cambodian Community.
Can you share some thoughts/reflections on the growth of the Cambodian Coalition to date?
In order to increase engagement of the Cambodian community in health-promoting policies, the Cambodian Advocacy Collaborative (Collaborative), formerly known as the Cambodian Coalition, was established in 2010. The Collaborative coordinated 17 monthly community forums, in which an average of 54 Cambodian community members participated. During the community forums, the Cambodian community was educated on health resources, disparities, and issues in Central Long Beach that included air quality, education, school discipline, and violence prevention. The Collaborative also facilitated a process to gather priority health changes desired by the Cambodian community. The Cambodian community desired changes in health and economic development. Through further analysis, the community specifically seeks improved language access in the city and within schools and increased education and training in health advocacy. The Cambodian community is isolated from the city and Long Beach School District (LBUSD) schools because of language barriers. In order to have engaged citizens and parents, language access policies must be implemented in the City of Long Beach and in LBUSD. In addition to language access, Cambodians have high rates of chronic health disease, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and uninsured Cambodian individuals. Through health education and advocacy training, Cambodian community members will learn the health disparities in the Cambodian community, the local resources that are addressing these needs, the ways health is affected by policy and environment, and the skills to influence policies and systems.
What is your role and how did you get involved?
I am the Collaborative Coordinator. I support the Collaborative through facilitating meetings and administrative supports. I was born and raised in Long Beach as a Cambodian American. I attended the Hub meetings before connecting with United Cambodian Community. I started working part-time with UCC and started to attend Collaborative meetings and community forums. I was inspired by the Collaborative’s focus on building the Cambodian community by education and advocacy.
What are some of the goals of the Cambodian Coalition? Current projects?
Based upon the recommendations and needs of the Cambodian community, the Collaborative proposes a Cambodian Advocacy Leadership Institute (CALI) to develop a core leadership team of Cambodian community members to advance health in Long Beach. CALI will build the next level of leadership for the Cambodian community by investing in key community leaders, beyond organizational staff, to advocate and change health systems and policies in Long Beach. In the past 2 years, the Cambodian community has grown in understanding the social determinants of health and the changes they desire for Central Long Beach. Through CALI, the Cambodian community will increase their skills and experience in advocacy. Cambodian Leaders will apply their knowledge and skills to current campaigns, which include language access, air quality, and parent engagement in schools. They will develop into indigenous Cambodian community advocacy leaders that mobilize and develop the next generation of advocacy leaders, that are integrated into decision-making boards and commissions, and that will be the change agents of health policies and systems in Long Beach.
What do you see as the future Cambodian Coalition?
Along with other Cambodian councils and groups, the Collaborative will serve as a powerful voice and representation of the Cambodian community in Long Beach. The Collaborative will be a strong network of Cambodian serving organizations that effectively empowers the Cambodian community in Long Beach.