On our return we began the arduous task of establishing a charity in preparation for our return to Cambodia. In doing so we have been encouraged by the assistance provided by Barringtons and individuals and were buoyed by the outpouring of passion from different parts of the community.
We have since undertaken a reconnaissance trip through outlying areas of Siem Reap and have identified a number of schools and communities that require assistance to provide people with basic requirements – food, water, health services and schooling. With community disease rates for tuberculosis 80%, malaria 60% and HIV 20%, it is quite evident that there is a lot of work to be done.
Our trips and research show that the major aid charities provide significant assistance to the Cambodian cities, however when travelling as little as 20 kilometres from the cities, abject poverty is widespread. It was quite evident where our focus would be. The majority of our efforts to date have been in the District of Chikreng, a distance of 70 kilometres from Siem Reap, where we were stunned to realize that the villagers had not been exposed to foreigners prior to our visits.
During our last trip a number of schools and hospitals were identified as being in critical need of assistance. Although our initial determination was to assist schools to provide some form of education, it soon became evident that you could not break the bond between schooling and health and as such part of the charity will assist in raising funds for medical equipment. Other areas of funding will include; creating jobs in villages to enable parents to work to allow their children the freedom to attend school and providing food aid packages to the most poverty stricken families on a short term basis while we assist in gaining training and employment.