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Phalyn: A Wounded Healer

In 2023, Mission Dove piloted a new program called Emerald Women. In this year-long interfaith cohort, 20 women came together to form a safe community where they could grow in their self-awareness and discover their own agency to effect positive change in their communities.

We were amazed at these women's perseverance, courage, and dedication, and we are proud of each of them and the journeys they are on. Please enjoy Phalyn's testimony in her own words (translated from Khmer).

Thank you for making training opportunities like this possible! You are making a difference in and through Phalyn's life.



Hi! My name is Phalyn San, and I am 29 years old. I have 3 siblings, and I grew up in Battambang province (about 300 km northwest of Phnom Penh). In 2012, I finished high school and moved to Phnom Penh to continue my studies. That was a really difficult time for me because it was the first time in my life for me to leave my family and live alone. However, it was also an opportunity for me to continue studying and to improve myself. I had a chance to stay in a Christian dormitory in Phnom Penh, even though at that time I wasn’t a Christian. While I was staying in Phnom Penh, it was incredibly hard for me because everything was new for me, and I also had to work to support myself and my family too.

I was a female student who left home all by herself and had to face discrimination, disrespect, and a life full of fear. I was subjected to insults, mistreatment, and disrespect from one of the male leaders of the dorm where I was staying. At that time, I really didn’t want to stay there because I thought that Christians weren’t good people to be around. Later, I shared my experience with my friend and with another leader there, and then I felt some relief and decided to continue to stay there.

In 2013, I decided to put my faith in Jesus, and after that, I had the opportunity to lead the women’s dormitory and to help them in their studies and by sharing life experiences together. It was God’s plan. I also had the opportunity to leave to serve God for one year in Africa too. Additionally, I married a Christian man who attends the same church. All the things that I have happened in my life have taught me so much, and I keep on focusing on what God has in store for me.

Currently, I serve as the leader for the female youth group and the women’s group at Crossroads Church. I want to always continue learning and try to find new things to improve myself and the groups I lead. I heard about the Emerald Women program from one of my leaders who told me about the program and the purpose of this group. I was really interested in it, and I decided to join. It was my first time to step out of my church groups to learn from a new group and from new experiences like this. I received so much from the lessons and from the other members sharing their life experiences.

The Emerald Women playing Uno together at a retreat.

What was really special about the Emerald Women group is that it helped me to discover who I really am without comparing myself to others. It helped me to go back to my past and to reflect on my family and the way that I was raised. I also learned to take care of myself and also about listening and supporting one another in the group. This is so important. Even more, I learned about women's rights and freedoms.

As a woman living in this social context, I always face many problems. It really hurts me deeply because many people are just selfishly thinking about their own benefit and their own feelings without thinking about others. Moreover, something that always gets in the way of my dreams for my life is a social norm or mindset that always compares women with things that aren’t as valuable as men. There are many cultural norms that women are expected to follow, keeping women stuck or limited in their opportunities. However, after I joined the Emerald Women group, we had the opportunity to share a lot of ideas and experiences with each other. Together we searched for something more so that we could all continue to grow.

Even though our weekly class is over, we will continue to share with youth and other groups about what we learned together. Now I am using some of the knowledge and skills that I gained from the Emerald Women program to teach the women in my church. We are starting our group by learning about the five love languages, self-care, and discovering our dreams and what we like. Our group decided to start something new that we enjoy—a women's soccer team! Even though it is a new experience for some of the women and there are some old mindsets that women should not play soccer, our group knows that we all have equal rights and freedoms to do what we enjoy.

The Emerald Women built deep relationships, many which will last long beyond this one-year cohort.

Additionally, for my own small group in the Emerald Women program, we have a plan for this upcoming year to visit a community in Kandal province and work with the House of Love Church. We are planning to spend time with about 25 to 30 community youth to teach them about the five love languages and self-care. We chose these lessons because they are an important part in helping each of the youth learn more about listening to their bodies and emotions and knowing how to manage their emotions, especially when they are anxious. We believe spending time and studying together with the youth will be a good start for them learn how to listen and share their thoughts in the group.


Will you consider supporting training programs for women like Phalyn? Please join us by making a donation through our partner Mission Dispatch.


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