Sorry had little time to write, but here’s Neary Khmer’s new website that I created for them this summer !

nearykhmer.org

Kampong Khleang

A two day visit to the remote villages of Phnom Kulen. Roads are steep and pretty terrible with many potholes.

Here we check through people’s records and books  that  detail people’s loans and payments (Microfinancing program)

Concern Worldwide, the primary donor of funds to Neary Khmer, came by this week for their mid-year report/check-in. The week was filled with meetings, workshops, and village visits.

Distributing Water Filters at Dan Ruen Village

Distributing Water Filters at Dan Ruen Village

This week continued with more lessons on HIV/AIDS, microfinancing, and rice banking. The week ended with the distribution of water filters in Dan Ruen (20km outside of Siem Reap) where water quality was poor and many fall ill due to bacteria in their water sources. Sixty selected families were chosen to receive water filters based on their annual income and ability to access specific resources. In the picture below, Sorn is demostrating how to assemble the water filter.

Here, Sorn demonstrates how to easily assemble the water filter and discusses how to take care for the filters.

Here, Sorn demonstrates how to easily assemble the water filter and discusses how to take care for the filters.

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The clay pot is porous and acts as the filter that removes bacteria. It is placed into the top part of the clear plastic container where a nozzle has been attached. Villagers receive all parts of the filter, including a special brush to clean the inside of the clay pot where bacteria may build up. Once the water stops dripping from the filters, its time to get a replacement.

The filters are $8 each and last for at least 2 years, or more if taken care of properly. The water filters are so effective that the number of people falling ill because of water-related illnesses have been reduced dramatically.

When distributing the filters, each person, (a representative from each family) is carefully called up and fingerprinted before they are allowed to take home a water filter to ensure that the right people are receiving filters and that there is no overlap within family members.

Breaking up into smaller groups, each group role plays different situations where one can get HIV/AIDS

Breaking up into smaller groups, each group role plays different situations where one can get HIV/AIDS

As it is the beginning of the month, we started out the week making plans for what needed to get done for the month. In addition to going out into the field to do workshops and checkups, there was a mid-year report due to Concern International by the end of the month and a revised proposal to the Lotus Charitable Fund who had recently awarded a project grant to Neary Khmer. Since the revised proposal for Lotus and several case studies for Concern were most urgent, I spent the beginning of the week revising and writing case studies. [The proposal for Lotus outlines a project that called for an education program (in the villages) that will teach villagers about clean water practices and how to prepare a nutritiously balanced meal. As for Concern, the case studies are specific examples of villagers who Neary Khmer has worked with and have been successful.]

Later on the week, I joined the a group of NK’s workers to Spean Vang Village (translates to Long Bridge) in Kampong Kleang Commune, (Siem Reap province). There, we conducted a HIV/AIDS workshop for a selected 20. The hope was that after being train, these selected members of the community would be able to help out, for example, by forming support groups, for those with HIV/AIDS. This way, the community will have more knowledge about HIV/AIDS, and will then hopefully, not be prejudice towards those with HIV/AIDS like many others who have been bad connotations of those with HIV/AIDS. The workshop was very participatory-based, and included small group discussions, villager presentations, and model role-playing. The villagers also discussed how people “fall into situations” where they can get HIV/AIDS.

During my first few days at work, I traveled with a few members of Neary Khmer (NK) to visit some of their beneficiaries in targeted villages. Since most of the villages that NK works with are in rural areas, the best mode of transportation is by motorbike, due to the uneven dirt roads. This is especially true during the rainy season when many potholes form and even parts of the road can be washed out. This makes it extremely difficult for cars which I quickly learned today when the car we borrowed for today’s trip got stuck in mud, which resulted in us pushing the car out. It took us about an hour and a half to reach each of the villages that we visited, including the ones today at Kampong Khleang.

Neary Khmer implemented different forms of microfinancing in many of the villages to promote sustainability and growth within the village communites. Of the Neary Khmer’s beneficiaries that I spoke with were given pigs to raise since they are easy to raise and are valuable on the market. A pig weighing at 50kgs (110lbs) can be sold for 300,000 riels (about 75 USD), a piglet at 5kgs (11lbs) can be sold for 100,000 riels (about $25). The pigs can be raised to 50kgs about 4 months if they are fed rice mixed with home-brewed wine. In a country where the per capita income is extremely low (i.e teachers get paid about 40 USD a month), pigs are very profitable.

Mother Pig and her piglets

In Kampong Klang, a fishing village near the Tonle Sap Lake, villagers were given fish to raise as well as credit to help them buy necessary things to raise fish. These villagers as well reported a slow, but steady increase in prosperity that would not have otherwise.

The villages that use microfinancing may borrow money that NK has given to the village with a 1% interest per month. Money that is repaid is kept within the money pool that stays within that particular village to continue the loaning cycle. (About 5% of the money that is given back to the money pool are given to elders who can no longer work and orphans.)

feeding fish in "beiys"- cages in the river for raising fish

feeding fish in "beiys"- cages in the river for raising fish

Finally, I have made it to Cambodia. After half a day of traveling (by car) I arrived in Siem Reap where Neary Khmer is located. On the way up, I traveled mostly through the countryside and small villages that will be like the villages I will be working with. As of now, my only job is to read different reports that Neary Khmer gave me to read so that I have a basic understanding of the different types of projects Neary Khmer has been working on.

I had also forgotten to thank the McKeen Center at Bowdoin College where I received one of the few Global Citizens Grants. The grants are given to Bowdoin College students who seek to volunteer with small, lesser known non-profit organizations. There weblink can also be found

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