Champei is a commune in the district Shrok Batie. The village Preaek is where our volunteers-house is, which is about 450 km from Siem Reap and 35 to 40 km from Phnom Penh, in the province of Takeo.
The commune Champei contains 7 villages. We’ll be setting up a similar project here as we have in Chhuk. The villages are: Daeum Doung, Mkak, Trakiet, Preaek, Moeang Prachen, Prey Mul and Cheung Loung. The Baca family, with whom Jan started the guesthouse “Baca Villa”, comes from this commune. The brothers and sisters of the Baca family’s parents still live here with their children. Because the standard of living in Champei is even lower than in Phum Chhuk, we still have a lot of work to do.
About 10.000 people live in Champei, of which 50% are children under the age of 21. The people are very friendly, helpful and kind, but have no knowledge of modern techniques. They live traditionally, under poor and unhygienic conditions, with few or no water and without electricity.
1. Bad water quality and insufficient water has our priority. The high mortality rate (15% of babies die at birth), infections and belly aches are caused by parasites in the contaminated water. To start other projects we will first have to deal with this problem. EWB (Engineers Without Borders) will help us with this. http://www.ewbhr.org/6101.html The circumstances are very primitive at the moment, so eventually it will help the entire commune. In November 2009 a complete team from Engineers Without Border (EWB) from the USA came to Champei for a week, to do soil research and water testing. More information will follow.
2. Khmer toilet and shower. In the meanwhile, the toilet and shower are built. We now have the basic facilities which make it somewhat more comfortable if we’re staying over. Just a simple Khmer toilet and Khmer shower will do. The costs including transportation from and to Tale Battie are somewhere around USD 550.-.
3. English Classes would obviously also be very welcome. With English classes, the change for the children to get more opportunities in their future is enlarged. The second language in Cambodia is English. In the large cities a lot of attention is paid to English classes. In the countryside, unfortunately, this is currently not the case. Without help from outside, the villagers are enforced to live in poverty and without any perspective towards the future. As a result it is almost impossible for them to find a job in the cities, since English is often a must. The motivation of children by their parents is an important task. If providing free courses, parents are more often willing to cooperate and send their children to the school.
4. The creation of education and employment could be a solution to stand up from their poor existence. We think it is very important all children learn to read and write in Khmer. As long as they do not know their own language there is no need to teach them English. When looking for a job it is of importance that they also know their own language. Next to the fact that all villagers are farmers there is no source of income. The establishment of an education program could be a solution. We’re thinking to teach the women and girls how to weave cotton or silk and/or to teach the boys how to make baskets in cane or bamboo or to teach them how to make pottery etc. The products would be bought by friendly organizations and sold later on. In this way, the villagers would be certain to have an income and they’ll experience a development of which they can benefit for the rest of their lives.
Thanks to winery “Hees” and foundation “Wilde Ganzen” we were able to build a new volunteers-house in July 2009, with capacity for 14 people. We also made a gate at the school yard and a simple hut to educate the smallest children.
This post is also available in: Dutch