charity: water stories

Healthy crops beneath her feet. A college education on the horizon.

Khloeum spent more than 20 years dreaming of clean water. She and her husband, Meng Morn, worked as hard as they could to reap a profitable harvest from their vegetable garden.

On a busy day, their family could earn a combined 15,000 Cambodian Riels—the equivalent of around $3.70 or £2.82—selling the fruit of their labor at the local market.

In rural Cambodia, an estimated 27% of people lack basic access to water. The available water is full of harmful contaminants, even human waste. And bottled water was a luxury that Khloeum’s family could not afford. The dirty water often made them sick, but they didn’t have any other choice.

Because of these waterborne diseases, she spent at least 40,000 Riels on medications every month. The time she spent recovering or tending to her children also kept her away from her gardens, which caused insects and neglect to cheapen the value of her crops at the market. The cost of dirty water kept Khloeum from being able to have any savings, stifling her dreams of sending her two sons to college someday.

So for decades, Khloeum hoped for a change.

In 2020, Khloeum’s family invested in a BioSand Filter with the help of our local partners, CLEAR Cambodia. CLEAR operates the largest BioSand Filter program in the world, installing an average of 22,000 filters every year. This technology is advanced enough to remove 99% of bacteria and toxins from rural water sources, but accessible enough to be assembled and maintained by each family.

This self-assembled water filtration system allowed Khloeum to purify the water she collected each day from her village’s well or pond. She was even able to take a hygiene and maintenance class to learn how to keep her BioSand filter operating for years to come. When CLEAR staff visited Khloeum, they were amazed by how well she was taking care of her new water purifier and adhering to safe sanitation and hygiene standards.

For Khloeum, everything changed. Now, her entire family is healthier. With the added time and care, her garden is thriving. Her daily income has doubled to $7.50 or £5.64, and she’s finally free from the medical expenses that used to steal her hard-earned wages. In just six months, Khloeum’s family has saved up $300.

Now, Khloeum plans to start a small grocery store from home. She hopes this new venture will provide her family with the life they deserve and the future that once seemed out of reach: university education for her children.