There are many problems in the area (Basak commune, Maung Ruessei, Battambang province). Because of the seclusion of this area and the fact that the government ignores it, poverty in this part of the province is on the rise. People live in a region where there are still many landmines in the ground and every week accidents occur. Parents leave the area to find regular or illegal work in Thailand, Malaysia or South Korea. Because of its proximity, Thailand is particularly popular here.
The children stay behind and are raised by their grandparents. When new children are begotten during the time they are working abroad, they are sent to the grandparents who are expected to take care of them.
The result is that there are hardly any people who can help to build a school, for example. Hardly any people who are willing or have the opportunity to take responsibility for the school or simply to come to a parent’s council or help in the maintenance of the school etcetera.
This is still a direct result of the recent history (the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979). A story that is not yet finished. In current politics, rule and power are still considered the most important. People do not trust anyone. After all, the people of the Khmer Rouge still live among them and the story has never been properly dealt with. Therefore, it is difficult to share the responsibility for a common project (building a school / maintenance) with local Cambodians.
But the ones that suffer mostly are the children. Most grow without proper parents and have little chance of education because of the local situation, though education is their only chance to change their situation in the future. Perhaps hundreds of pupils (we have more than 800 students in the region at present) often walk up to 1 hour on foot every day to school, sometimes even barefoot. At temperatures of up to 40 ° C or flood-like rainfall this is not an easy task for children. But the children want to learn! They come to school. Voluntary and very motivated.
Our work in the project
What we have done until now: the construction of small schools in the province of Battambang (a total of three currently). Here we work very closely with the local organization. Several police officers and also the mayor help us, supervise and control the construction activities.
History: When the big donors withdrew their support, our former partner DCWO (Development for Children and Women Organization) got into financial problems and was forced to suspend the activities.
Two field staff members who worked for DCWO, Mr. Sam Sophath and Mr. Khen Choum, continued their work as field workers without financial support.
They kept in touch with us and consulted us on how we would be able to reach the community in the Basak district (there was no real street yet) and how we could support them. Our motto is to work closely with the local population. Participation and consultation begins with the villagers and the teachers of the small schools. The village chief and the head of the district are indispensable here if you want to start a project successfully.
So we have also created a new form of organization at the local level, which did not exist yet in Cambodia. It is called community building.
It was a great opportunity for us to use their experiences and knowledge of the area together with our three Cambodian members of the Board to provide a basis for the future of this neglected and underdeveloped region in Cambodia. Next we financed the construction of the three schools with donations.
Now there are about 900 children who can safely go to school.
Current help and problems
We are currently facing the following problems and are looking for solutions together
- Not enough pens and notebooks for the children to learn are available (donations needed)
- Many children have no shoes (project launched)
- Promote community feeling among schools (project launched, “United for Sports”)
- Cleanliness, hygiene and garbage (training started)
- Not sufficient water (donations needed for new water solution)
- Scholarship for both secondary- and High school ( Donations needed)
During all our visits to the schools in Pong Toek and Chakrey, their determination to attend classes is confirmed. They don’t mind walking an hour under the glowing sun (temperatures of about 40 degrees are no exception) or through tropical rainstorms.
We managed to provide the school in Pong Toek with water collection tanks to collect water during the rainy season. This water is enough to get water for the flushing of the toilets and to provide the children with drinking water during the six months of the dry season. The parents of schoolchildren who were present at the time also helped to realize this drinking water system. Apart from that in 2015 we tried to drill for water (wells). However, this was not successful due to the bad groundwater.
The tables with benches for the school were built with the help of the school children, the teacher, the village chief (the most important person and a great driving force). This man, Mr. Som Lim, also offered us to use his land. The villagers and he were thrilled when they saw that the construction work went smoothly, and several activities were organized. Thus the cohesion between the population was clearly promoted.
For this reason, we are also motivated to start building a community. We hope that the things that we build together will be maintained better.
It is wonderful to work with these people and see that the confidence in each other and in the organizations is gradually growing.