If you’ve ever stood fully-clothed inside a sauna, then you know what Cambodia is like in April. Sweaty, mostly. Hot and humid.
“You couldn’t have picked a worse time of year to visit.”
Those were literally the first words out the mouth of Stephen Chee, our local partner there.
Great. Thanks, Stephen. Looking forward to it.
To be fair, he wasn’t wrong.
But it didn’t require much time in the field to realize that being a little sweaty is a pretty silly thing to complain about.
This was my first trip with charity: water and my first trip to a developing country. I didn’t know what to expect. But here’s what I learned:
1. Water is Available Everywhere in Cambodia
Women and children don’t have to walk for hours to find a water source– they have ponds, streams, wells. Most people can dig down five meters on their own property and find water.
But that doesn’t mean that the water is clean. It still causes disease and diarrhea.
2. BioSand Filters are Magic
Because there’s so much dirty water available, the best solution is a BioSand Filter– which is basically a concrete box that lives at your home. Inside are layers of gravel, sand and microorganisms that eat bacteria and filter out pathogens. You can literally pour a bucket of rust-colored, iron-heavy water into the top and have beautiful, clean water come out the bottom.
It’s simple technology, but it’s brilliant — because they’re easy to make and inexpensive. Entire villages enroll and then come build their BSFs together. There’s a sense of ownership to it. And the BSFs can serve a family of five for 10 years or more. $65 very well spent, my friends.
3. Our Partners are Amazing
Our local partner, CLEAR Cambodia, doesn’t just drop by for a quick BioSand Filter install. They work with communities in advance and then walk alongside them throughout the entire BSF process… from construction and installation to hygiene training and maintenance education.
4. This Woman is a Hero
Keun Leap is a wife and mother of four boys. Her husband is sick, so she’s the only one working for her family. Which means trying to earn extra income by raising and selling chickens and doing small chores for neighbors. That’s in addition to her regular workload in the rice field, of course.
When she’s not working outside her home, she’s working in it; preparing food, cleaning clothes, taking care of her family. Keun Leap’s life is very very hard.
But the inspiring part was that she was her attitude toward it. She was thankful to have a BSF now. To have a healthier family. In the midst of all of this hardship… she’s thankful. Hero.
5. This Kind of Stuff Really Happens
The whole trip was pretty unreal. We were welcomed into homes and got to chase children around villages. I ate tarantula and climbed temples and blew through several bottles of sunscreen. It was an unforgettable couple of days. And I hope that rings true when you see this year’s Holiday Campaign for Cambodia.