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The wake of the destruction from the Khmer Rouge has left Cambodia behind the Asian Tiger economies in many ways. The ideology of the Rouge promoted the murder of Cambodia’s educated class leaving the country’s infrastructure 20 years in the past. Today many NGO’s exist to remedy Cambodia’s ailments.
One infrastructural casualty is found in the fact that nearly 75% of Cambodia’s population has no access to clean water. I had the opportunity to spend my morning with the leaders of Water for Cambodia. Started with funds generously provided by a Rhode Island Rotary Club, WFC has placed over 5,000 filtration systems in Cambodian homes in its 4 years of existence. The systems cost $50 and helps avert water borne illnesses that continue to plague the country.
I ventured through the rural villages near Siem Reap to examine how this group has worked to improve Cambodia’s situation. The WFC has helped many families. However, there is still much work to be done. If all works well, we hope to have Youthlinc’s inaugural Cambodia team raise money to donate these devices to the impoverished families of Peak Sneng.
Another dilemma proliferating throughout the countryside is access to medical care. Of the over 500 Cambodian doctors prior to the rule of the Khmer Rouge, only 45 survived leaving the country’s medical system virtually nonexistent.
Meeting with the Angkor Hospital for Children’s staff today showed me how individuals are helping meet the medical needs of Cambodia’s children. The hospital treats between 400 and 600 patients a day and has a satellite office in the countryside. A major function of the AHC is to train medical professionals and to educate parents how to avert common health problems. Hopefully, the Youthlinc Cambodia team will be able to bring doctors in 2011 to help in this worthy cause.
While Cambodia’s past haunts the realities of today, resilience and hope can be found for the future. The people here are so eager and willing to find solutions to their problems. The plethora of NGO’s and individuals dedicated to improving this country overwhelms and inspires any visitor who ventures deeper than the ancient temples and picturesque countryside of Cambodia.
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