by Chum Peou, a Water For Kids national intern in Cambodia
Cambodia has had a dark past riddled with war and genocide. Even after gaining independence at the beginning of 1979, living conditions weren’t good. People struggled to survive and still feared execution. As the fear of executions waned, the poor living habits and sanitation practices continued, carrying over to future generations who learned from the poor example. Thousands of children have died due to diarrhea and other diseases and infections because they don’t know how to live with proper hygiene or sanitation practices.
When Samaritan’s Purse arrived in Cambodia with the Water For Kids project, we began providing hygiene and sanitation classes to more than 50 primary schools in Banteay Meanchey province, Cambodia.
The Water For Kids team went to the schools, teaching students and training teachers about water, sanitation, and hygiene. One of the main parts of the program is showing them how to properly wash hands and clean toilets. They’ve also discussed how to tell when the water is clean and drinkable, and Samaritan’s Purse has provided water construction facilities to some schools that are in need.
Most of the schools along the Cambodia-Thailand border in Poipet now know about better hygiene practices. However, it’s still difficult for the people who live in the countryside. There are kids who do not understand the importance of water and hygiene education. When they go out to the rice fields to harvest or plant rice, they sometimes drink unsanitary water from the rice fields or from the valley.
Compared to the past, education in Cambodia is increasing at a fast pace. Still, hygiene and sanitation aren’t adequately taught in schools.
This is why Samaritan’s Purse teams are finding solutions to transforming what habits are being passed on to the next generation. If we ignore the apparent problems in hygiene and sanitation, it’s going to be hard to change Cambodia. The Water for Kids team encourages all teachers to think about the students’ futures and the next generations.
The Water for Kids project has been working closely with the schools, and we have seen students transformed in hand washing, hygiene education, and sanitation. The project also assists poor families, who need emergency aid, and the victims of flooding and starvation. The Water For Kids team always keeps on serving God and sharing the Gospel in meetings with government leaders, villagers, and people in the community.
We believe and trust that our God is working through us to transform Cambodia and find salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ more and more in the next few years. We hope to see Cambodia as a nation that walks with Christ and is able to send missionaries to the world.