Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

People with disability in Cambodia are often marginalised, and not given the opportunity to fully participate in their communities.

This can lead to high levels of unemployment and exclusion, and leave children and families trapped in a cycle of poverty.

ChildFund Cambodia’s  Community Voices project is giving people with disability the opportunity to have a say about the challenges they face in their daily lives, and how these obstacles can be tackled.

In turn, this improves the accountability of village authorities and drives change at a grassroots level, with community members working collaboratively to find innovative solutions to the problems raised.

In rural Svay Rieng, the lack of work and livelihood opportunities was found to be a major issue for people with disability.

Working together, the village decided to provide motorcycle mechanic training to help people with disability find meaningful and stable employment.

Motorcycles have become extremely popular in Cambodia, and there is a long-term need for skilled mechanics.

Ratha, who cannot use his right leg, is one of many parents in Svay Rieng who took part in a mechanics apprenticeship. This is his story.

 

“Before ChildFund came to our village, I lost two sons because of unsafe water from the creek,” says 40-year-old Sok Ren from Kratie province in rural Cambodia. “One was four years old and my other son was only three months old.”

In the countries where we work, there are thousands of children who drink, wash and play in unsafe water. Many of these communities don’t have access to the healthcare facilities of the city, so if a child becomes sick from prolonged exposure to dirty water, they may not survive without the proper care.

Below we’ll explain how a simple hand pump well can change the lives of an entire village.

 

The Effects of Unsafe Drinking Water on Children

Sitting next to his wife, Vun Rom, on a bamboo bed in front of their small cottage, Sok Ren describes how he lost both his children.

“In the village we traditionally used and drank dirty water from the creek. It was a parasite in the water that caused one of my sons to get malaria and the other to get diarrhoea,” he says.

“I had no money and the health centre was a long way away from us so my sons passed away.”

Sok Ren and his wife live in Damrei Phong commune. Villagers from this area travel hours through forest, along rocky mountain roads to reach the closest district centre, located more than 30km away.

They aren’t the only parents who have had this heartbreaking experience in the village. It’s even more so to know that it could have been prevented if the family had access to a source of clean water.

 

How Our Water and Sanitation Project is Saving Lives

Before ChildFund’s water project began, people found water sources at the creek, from rain and through a few old open or tube wells in the village. Most did not understand the importance of hygiene and never used a toilet.

“A decade ago, at least four to five children died every year, mostly because of malaria and diarrhoea,” says Mr Hom Ly, vice-village chief, who lost three of his own children to these preventable diseases.

“However, the situation is getting better with the support of ChildFund’s water and sanitation project,” he says. “The rate of child sickness has decreased from 60 per cent to 20 per cent after four new wells were constructed in our village.”

 

Wells Improve Health and Sanitation In Villages