Dengue Fever Exploration | Writing Risk Analysis on Dengue Fever Outbreak

Dengue fever cases in Cambodia increased by 30% in the first three weeks of the year. A dengue fever outbreak occurs every 4 to 5 years. The last outbreak in Cambodia was in 2012, and it was expected that an outbreak would happen in 2017, according to Phnom Penh Post. However, there wasn’t an outbreak last year, so it’s assumed that it will happen this year. 

Dengue virus vectors, Aedes Egypti, mainly are found in urban areas, where they’re highly populated. In these areas, standing water containers and water storage such as flower vases, tanks and jars are commonly found and can be breeding ground for Aedes Egypti.

The information above has led us to do a risk analysis on dengue fever outbreak. We asked the villagers from two communities  Chompous Kaek and Koh Krobey ‒ questions related to their knowledge on dengue fever and prevention behavior. We also did observations to determine the presence of mosquito larvae.  We used this information to assess relationships between variables such as knowledge, prevention behavior, and perceived risk. 

  • Visiting WHO to get more information about Dengue Fever in Cambodia

The final report is a potential resource for the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization based in Cambodia to identify the risk of dengue fever in areas like Chompous Kaek and Koh Krobey. It’s also helpful for the villagers in a way that it will bring their needs to the attention of those institutions. For example, larvicide, Abate, hasn’t been given to the villagers for years, and many are requesting for it. 

Below is a section of the report that I’ve worked on.

Many people have some knowledge about dengue fever and are taking some actions to prevent mosquitoes from biting and breeding, but statistical analysis shows no evidence of an association between the two variables. In other words, none of the prevention behaviors are influenced by the knowledge people already have about dengue fever. Additionally, this particular finding is aligned with the result from the study on “Dengue knowledge, attitudes and practices and their impact on community-based vector control in rural Cambodia.”

In this observational study, there may be errors presented in this survey, such as response bias. For instance, people might most likely say they clean their water storage frequently, even though they don’t. Also, knowledge may not necessarily determine people’s actions; it is possible they can know something but not apply their knowledge to real life. By this means, we can’t make an appropriate conclusion about any causal relationship.

As mentioned above, villagers did exhibit some prevention behaviors against dengue fever; however, these behaviors were relegated to a few methods to prevent mosquitoes from biting and breeding. In addition, only about 30% of the people we surveyed have attended some forms of educational campaign related to dengue fever. This means those people would benefit from an awareness campaign, educating them more on methods to prevent dengue fever.

2017/2018 Yearly Reflection

My Journey as a Young Conservationist

“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin,” Anthony Robbin

One day before the summer of 2017, my science teacher came into the meeting room, wearing a snorkeling mask and fins — not something someone would do every day. We gave her a bizarre look and knew she was up to something. She explained about an opportunity given by Liger and MCC (Marine Conservation Cambodia) and that the students selected would involve in a long-term marine science project; I knew it was for me.

But one thing halted my excitement: we would be learning to dive. The idea of breathing underwater haunted me like how a fish would feel emerging into the land. It’s unnatural for any human beings to stay underwater and it’s even more abnormal for me. I don’t have a swim gene and couldn’t expect how I would feel while diving.

Anyhow, I knew that my passion for science is greater than my fear of diving.

I neglected my ineptitude in swimming and decided to apply. I was chosen to be one of the eight students involving in the first-ever Liger research team. That was a dream come true.

Before any work is put into the research, I dedicated my time in the summer holiday to learn about diving — spending a few hours each day learning about Boyle’s law, effective breathing pattern and etc. Things that struck me most was the possible injuries we can get underwater: sinus squeeze, mask squeeze, ear squeeze, and lung squeeze. I was terrified of diving already and those things just worsen my fright.

On the 28th of September 2017, the three-year adventure for the Liger Marine Research Team (LMRT) began. We traveled for three hours from Liger to the small port of Kep and continued on the MCC boat to Koh Seh. The wild, one-hour boat ride took me to a place I’ve never seen with people I barely knew.  

After having a welcoming and delicious dinner, Liger, MCC staffs, and volunteers got to introduce ourselves to each other. There were people of all ages, from 18 year-olds to 30-year olds, people from different places and people with different backgrounds. That’s when I figured out we are the youngest and some of the few Cambodians there who would be working on marine research.

The next morning, we had our first dive lesson! Assembling the gears was a puzzle; my hands were shaking while putting the tank, the regulator and buoyancy compensator together. Carrying the massive equipments behind my back, I entered the water and followed my dive instructor. We then descended, and all I could see was the figure of people that dove with me. The water wasn’t that clear and I had to focus on what the instructor was doing. When I had to learn to clear my mask, the instructor introduced water into my mask and I couldn’t blow it out. I choked and instinctively came out of the water. That was one panicked moment. The rest of the dive went well, but it was still very difficult. Anyways, the “panic attack” stopped after a few dives. The next three days were packed with diving courses. It usually takes weeks or months to be a certified diver, but for us, 14 to 16 year-olds, only took four days to complete the course and be certified.

Besides learning to dive, we need to understand the methodology for doing underwater surveys because that’s a great part of our study. The MCC experts walked us through the process and even guided us through a practice survey underwater.

After all the training, we were able to deploy our artificial reef. Our hope for the artificial reef is for it to replenish the species that’s been lost due to illegal fishing activities and stop trawling which will prevent the excessive destruction of organisms.

The block is minuscule in comparison to the immensity of the ocean, but only one month after deployment, we could see our progress. We noticed plenty more fish and species on our second survey than we did during our first survey. We saw zero catfish on our baseline survey and we saw 50 of those the next survey. The progress that has been made in such as short period of time is significant — imagine decades after deployment.

I’m imagining the work we’re doing could lead to restoring the quality of our ocean. I’m imagining our ocean can be like Cabo Pulmo in Mexico: the vast abundance of biodiversity and clear water. This might not happen very soon, but it’s not impossible. We began the journey, so it’s possible.

What I learned more clearly from this experience is that perfection or accomplishment doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and practice. We can think of it as a mango. We can’t pick a green mango from a tree and expect it to be sweet and juicy; it takes more time for the mango to be ripen and gain excellent taste. If we want to see the change, the accomplishment, we have to be patient and know that the effort we put in is worth the change we’ll see in the coming future.


Trip to WHO (Malaria and Dengue Fever)

On the 9th of April, as part of my Exploration, we went to World Health Organization (WHO) office in Phnom Penh to meet Dr. Luciano Tuseo, head of the malaria programme at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Cambodia. Our goal was to learn more deeply about Malaria and Dengue fever and what has been done about this problem in Cambodia.

Participating in the presentation

There are 36000 diseases in Cambodia, and this doesn’t include any minor diseases. Two of those diseases are Malaria and dengue fever. What these diseases have in common is that they’re mosquito-borne diseases. We’ve learned from Dr. Luciano that in Cambodia, “Malaria is the past and dengue fever is the future.” This simply means that the number of malaria case has decreased, while the number dengue fever cases are drastically increasing. The main question was why. The answer is: scientifically, dengue mosquitoes (Aedes) pass on dengue fever virus to their offsprings, while malaria mosquitoes (Anopheles ) don’t.  

People in the urban are more vulnerable to dengue fever. Aedes likes to breed in small and clean water sources such as flower vase, and other containers. These materials are vastly available wherever there’s a large population. This is why it is recommended to remove any source of water around your home. 

As a developing country, the access to drugs and vaccine is the main health problem in Cambodia. In order to help with that, WHO had drug distribution campaigns.  Lack of Education is also a factor of public health problem in Cambodia. This is why we’re hoping to work with WHO or other organization to bring resources to those in need. 


Gender Summit 2018

I believe that change can start with a small action, such as conversation. 

On the 27th and 28th of January, my team of 12 hosted an event called Gender Summit for about 100 high school students from both international schools and local schools. The goal was to encourage dialogues regarding gender issues. Our team realized that gender is not a common topic that Cambodian people talk about, so the first step of change is to enforce more dialogues about the issue. 

The event encompassed four main sessions: power, culture, language, and economics. I was a session leader in the latter session. In that section, I introduced the idea of how advertisement influences our thought about gender roles in the society. Companies advertise their products for female and male separately with a few differences, mainly the color along with a description that describes femininity and masculinity. We should take control of ourselves and buy products that we need and like, regardless of who can use it according to the advertisements.

A fun activity that was part of my session was called Atomic Circle. The goal of this activity was sharing with each other about personal ideas on certain statements. An example of a statement is, “all women are naturally better caretakers than men.” Many people agreed that this idea is true because that’s what they’ve seen in the society. What they didn’t realize was that most people have taught girls to be more caring than boys and it seems like this is natural, but it’s not. 

It wasn’t easy preparing a lesson for other people. It wasn’t easy to get them to talk or generate ideas. There are also times when they said something that didn’t seem right to me, even though there are no specific right or wrong ideas on this topic. Sometimes, it’s hard to stop the conversation when people say something that we don’t agree with. What I’ve learned is that if we want to change how people perceive something, we should enforce questions for them to answer (Socratic method), so that they will think about the idea in a different angle. 

Everyone who attend the event on the 27th




Paññāsāstra University Gender Course

My Gender Equity Exploration got a chance to discuss with university students about a topic that’s not common for Cambodians, gender equity. 

The workshop went very well. It was a great opportunity for us to open our mind to look at others’ perspective outside of Liger. It surprised me that university students who are studying gender still have some gender stereotype in their mindset. For instance, some of them view crying as a weak and feminine characteristic. This just shows how much work needs to be done in order to shape people’s view of gender, particularly Cambodians’ view. This just made me think how successful our summit will be in term of raising awareness to Cambodians about those stereotypes.


What Does a REAL Man Mean to You?

In literacy class, we had a project to write an article about any topic ralating to gender equity. My article include different perspectives of female on what a real man should be like.

When we think of a man, we often think of masculinity. But are all men masculine? Or do they need to be masculine?

That’s the way many men think about how they should be. This is not necessarily what girls and women think.

I asked a question to several females I know, ranging from Asians to Westerns, and from 15-year-old teenagers to a 30-year-old woman. The question is “What does a real man mean to you?”

Very little of the responses claimed a man needs to be strong! In fact, many think a real man is much more than just their appearance.

“If a person identifies himself as a man, he’s a real man,” Vornsar Ses, my close friend, mentioned. Similarly, Samantha Cody, a learning facilitator at Liger wrote to me, “I would say, my idea of a ‘real man’ is: a person who wants to be called a man. Pretty simple, but that’s about my only standard–you’re a “real man” if you identify as a man, nothing more required or expected of you.” The same idea is said by Cara Shelton, another learning facilitator, “… a real man must want to identify as a man.”

Some said to be a real man, you just need to exist!

“He should physically exist!” Sreynith Sam, another friend of mine, briefly said.

Despite those simple requirements, there are some characteristics an ideal man should have. Cara genuinely expressed, “there is not much more ‘real’ a man needs other than existing. However, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have certain ideas of an ideal man or “real man” in the colloquial sense.” She continued, “he sees and treats women as equals and acknowledges that the expectations and roles we all participate in are socially created and not natural because of our sex. He applies the traditions or practices of being a “gentleman” to all people and all manners of his life.”

Alice Dimitroulis, a teenage girl from Australia, indicated, “for me, a real man doesn’t necessarily have to do with physical appearance. I understand the term itself is sometimes used to challenge a man’s confidence, for example ‘you’re not a real man if you can’t lift those heavy weights.’” She went on to say that a real man should be honest with himself, doesn’t fall into peer pressure, doesn’t worry about being the best and doesn’t take offense when others say he’s not a real man. Likewise, Cara remarked, “A real man is not threatened by successful, powerful women.”

A Korean teenager, Soyeon Lee, responded that there are a few aspects of an ideal man, “for me, ‘real man’ is [someone] who is good at his own area such as debate, sports or math(ability), a warm hearted man(personality), and can be looked nice at least to me(appearance).” Comparably, one of my friends feels that a real man is someone that “people can depend on, learns from his mistakes, does what is necessary, could make people around him smile [and] respectful”

Respect and appreciation are also essential ingredients for a real man. Many said they should admire others around them, especially women. Sreynith believes a real man is “a man who respects women and does not humiliate them.” Another friend of mine commented, “He’s grown up and respectful. He should be a feminist, not going against anyone. He should be a wise man to be a real man.” Cara made a few other points about different aspects of appreciation, “a real man is not homophobic. A real man tries to avoid language that is offensive and stereotyped. A real man can appreciate and admire female beauty while also controlling himself and remaining loyal (if this has been decided in a relationship).”

I’ve been communicating other women’s perspective of men, but I haven’t revealed anything about my idea of a real man. An ideal man to me is all of the above. I know that a man can’t be all those things, so to me, the most important characteristic is that a real man is able to show his emotion when necessary. Even though many people consider this expression as weak, it’s not in my opinion. I clearly remember a statement and fell in love with it ever since. The statement was made by Arn Chorn pond, the founder of Cambodian Living Arts, and he said, “it takes a real man to cry.”

I’m clearly aware that different people have different views of what a real man is like. Our opinions on a real man might be different from those of our best friends, or parents and grandparents. There is no one definition of a real man. Everyone of us needs to acknowledge this fact and encourage men to be whoever they want, regardless if they fit in your definition of a real man.

Trip to SHE Investment

Typically, organizations tackle gender issues regarding women’s right and aspects related to that. SHE (Support Her Enterprise) investment tackle this problem in a different way. This newly opened organization support women who create their own micro business. According to Lida Loem, Programs Manager & Head Facilitator at SHE, 65% of businesses in Cambodia are owned by women but a lot of them are micro businesses. 

SHE investment believes that what they are doing is not a charity, it’s an investment. They trust that women have the ability to lead their own businesses with the help of mentors from SHE. 

The group of passionate people for SHE has helped 67 women with their business since 2015. Linda mentioned about a particular tailor who worked by herself before she worked with SHE. Now, she has several employees and is looking for a few more.

This small organization has made such a big impact on Cambodian women in such a short amount of time. I am looking forward to seeing SHE expanding their potential, and hoping they will reach one of their goals of establishing SHE in other countries. 

AP Statistic Response Practice

The AP Statistic exam is in about four months, so part of what we do in class is practicing writing response for the actual test. Below is a sample question and my response to it. (a). The scatter plot support the newspaper report that states the more semesters needed to complete an academic program, the greater the starting salary in the first job. The scatterplot shows a moderately positive linear association, meaning the more semesters needed to complete a program, the more starting salary earned.

(b). The slope of the least-squares regression line is 1.1594. This means for every additional of semester needed to complete a program, there will be an addition of about 11,000 euros to the starting salary.

(c). For the business majors, the scatterplot shows a strong negative and linear association between the number of semesters and starting salary. This means the more semesters needed to complete an academic program, the less the starting salary earned.

(d). The median starting salaries vary among the three majors. Business majors have the lowest median starting salaries in thousands (36-38), followed by physics majors (48-50). Chemistry majors have the highest median salaries in thousands (54-56).

(e). Based on the analysis of the independent researchers, the newspaper report could modify to say that within each major, the more semesters needed to complete an academic program, the lower the starting salary earned in the first job. The major with the highest starting salary is chemistry, followed by physics and then business.

Future Food Exploration – Green Roof

As part of the Future Food Exploration, I worked on a project to plan the installation of a green roof on the Visitor Information Palace (VIP) at Liger. The purpose of building a green roof on this container building is for decoration and reduction of temperature. By implementing green roof, people can save a lot of money. The plants can block direct sunlight from affecting the roof, which means people don’t have to replace the roof so often and pay for fixing the roof. The plants make the building cooler, causing people to use less power and pay less for electricity.

I would say we are one of the first Cambodians to do this project and there’s no reference on how to do this. It was a big challenge to find materials to use for our green roof. The existing materials used for the green roof are available in other countries and it would be costly to import it to Cambodia. We needed to be creative to find alternative materials that are available in Cambodia and cheap. Currently, we have the first prototype to test if the materials work. 

Layers of our green roof with their materials
Prototype of our green roof

White Building – Memorial Event by Cambodian students

On the 9th of November, my Exploration team hosted an event at Meta House, Phnom Penh. The aim of this event was to present our projects after the demolition of the White Building.

As I was a resident of the White Building, I had a role of inviting former residents to the event. I contacted many people through phone calls and facebook chats. I didn’t get every person I contacted to come, but I got my parents and a few other people to join.

At the event, I presented and read an excerpt of my short story, Brittle. This is a story about a girl who wasn’t confident about living in the White Building. There were many times when people insulted her about living in her own home. The problem wasn’t very serious until a gloomy moment came into her life. This story juxtaposes the bad reputation in the white building as well as the friendly and warm community aspects in the White Building.

This is my first time hosting an event to a group of people from Phnom Penh. This is a really great experience for me to share what I’ve learned with other people. We usually have Sharation at the end of a term, but this event is different since it reached another group of people who can relate to the topic of the event, which was the demolition of the White Building. 

A picture with one of the guests. She’s working in EYC, which had a very strong connection with the White Building.