By Liina FlynnJohn
In the village of Bung Sudok in the Pursat province of Cambodia, children spend much of their day carrying drinking water from a polluted stream back to their village. This lack of safe drinking water and infrastructure has motivated members of the Rotary Club of Lismore West to reach out and make a difference.
“In Bung Sudok, the majority of illnesses are water related,” president John Egglestone said. “There is no electricity there and much of the country has been denuded of forest, so it’s hard for villagers to find fuel to boil water and make it safe.
“If we can build wells and schools we can create a better future for the people there,” he said.
Working in partnership with other Rotary clubs around the world, the club is involved in an international project to improve the living conditions for the 1300 people living in Bung Sudok.
Beginning with the construction of a deep multi-purpose well, the ‘Sustainable Cambodia’ project is about helping villagers acquire the skills to sustain themselves in the future.
“Cambodia is the most poverty stricken country in south-east Asia and has the worst child mortality rate in the world, ” the club’s international services director Laurie Orchard said.
Facilitated by Cambodia-based group Sustainable Cambodia, which has already constructed 200 wells across the country, the project has involved extensive consultation with the villagers themselves.
“For the projects to be sustainable, the villagers’ involvement is an essential part,” Mr Orchard said. “The villagers will have to do much of the work themselves, such as dig the first 30 metres of the well before it can be drilled, cased and pumped. They will then sign contracts to undertake the ongoing maintenance of it.”
Mr Orchard said that building the well would cost Rotary about $4000 and that each family in the village will then pay 12 cents per month to fund the upkeep of the well.
“We also have a plan to give a village family a pair of breeding animals. The villagers will sign a contract and then give any offspring to other people in the village.”
Mr Orchard and Mr Egglestone plan to travel to Cambodia later this year to visit the village and are encouraging people from our local community to get involved.
“We’d like to ask local farmers here if they would be willing to volunteer their time and expertise to travel to Cambodia as advisors and teach them how to grow things,” Mr Egglestone said.
“In the wet season, the villagers plant rice and hope it’s enough to get them through the dry season. One of the future projects we will support will be sending an agricultural expert to teach villagers to plant vegetable crops to supplement the annual rice crop,” he said. “We are trying to kick-start a poor country, and we can only do this with the help of the community.”
For more information phone Mr Orchard on 6625 2892.