Buying Land, Clearing Land, Planting Farm, Searching for Water, Digging a Reservoir, Getting to Know Our Village, Collecting Recycled Materials to Build Our School, Building Accommodation for Volunteers Coming to Build the School and Preparing for Self Sustainability…
We’ve been getting dirty on the farm this week. The back breaking labor has begun. We had a neighbor recruit some local help, when we showed up it was mostly women and kids. We didn’t want to send them away, so we worked side by side, took many breaks and cut it into a half day. There are so many women who want to work and ask us to come, but at this point we need some man strength to prepare the land. Though we have promised these lovely women work in the future, with preparing moringa goods. The village is lovely, we are constantly being invited to eat rice with everyone’s families and our land is oh so fertile! The rainy season is creeping in and bringing so much greenery. We start construction this week and we go out tomorrow to scope the land with our contractor. The village is excited and looking forward to our community development project. 🙂
It has been quite a past two weeks over the Khmer New Year!! The Khmer people have been preparing for and shutting down their businesses for a week of getting together with the family and having a great time! We’ve been experiencing the New Year with our adopted Khmer family and it’s quite fun! Last night was filled with singing, dancing and eating.
As for this week, its time that everyone is back at work. We have our bore well driller coming out, we start construction of the Khmer house at the beginning of May and we will be preparing for planting. We have been filling our brains with all types of information about lucrative and healing plants to grow, options for solar panels and planning how to efficiently attain sustainability and bring the necessary knowledge and resources to town without offending Khmer culture.
We’ve been learning about PermaCulture, visiting farms, calculating start-up costs of varied crops and learning about Khmer culture. We are having emails and calls from volunteers who want to help and we thank our incredible donors for getting us on our feet. We’re Moving Mountains, one boulder at a time!
We have been learning that the kids who go to the government schools are still unable to pass the entrance exams to get into University. They are lacking in areas of science and math especially. We want to develop a school program to give the kids who already go to school a well-rounded education where they can attend a second study session after they go to school in the morning. We will also be developing a program for the children who aren’t going at all.
We have been having many interactions with the local people. We have been looking into well options, began meeting potential families to site mange the farm and getting quotes on building the security/ family home for one lucky local family. We have been incredibly fortunate and have felt the Divine workings through the people who have come together to help our project.
The family we are living with have grown to become our family. We eat dinner with them, teach each other our languages, charade stories and go on walks around the premises where the head of the household will point out the new things growing and how big the fish are getting! It is a beautiful set up and what is even more special incredible is that they want to be apart of our project. It just so Divinely happens that the family’s original roots are in Kampong Chin!! They are very well-known through the community and loved by many. 🙂 The first time we took Wana, the head of the house, out to the project site, we stopped at the neighbor’s house who has been helping us out. As soon as the two saw each other they had a long embrace and a huge smile!! They have been childhood friends. It really gave me goosebumps to see how things are coming together. The family has been coming out and introducing us to the locals. It is really a beautiful thing to be associated with a family that is held is such high regard in this community. The icing on the cake is that Wana is a professional and amazing contractor! He will be working along side of us as we begin to build.
As time is passing and we are learning about the culture, place and people, we are seeing our plan morph into what the community needs and figuring out what approach will be most effective. I thought we would come out and get set up right off the bat as a safe home, I am now seeing that the way to be most influential and beneficial is to delve into the sustainable farm and the community aspects of the program, as we need a strong backbone to foster youth. We are starting to hire a few local people to work along side of us and get to know local people. Our first priorities are to get a Khmer house built, find a suitable family who will work alongside of us on the farm, get a well dug and the trees planted in May which is the first rains. We will continue to fundraise, as we need a well dug, Khmer house built and trees planted before the wet season in June. Once we get this rolling in the next year, we will take a few years to sink our roots in the community, build up the community through knowledge and resources and then, be able to employ local people to make moringa products that will, in turn, fund the project itself. When we get to this stage, a few years down the road, we will have produce that we sell to local restaurants and resorts, products we make/sell and then we have a community who is benefiting from the work and the moringa itself. By this time we will have strong bonds in this community, a community that is one of the poorest in Cambodia and has high risk of children being taken for the trafficking industry. When this happens, I estimate five years down the road, we will be in a prime position to bring kids into a safe home environment. This will ensure that our children will be raised alongside local children, we will be sure to have the funds to support all their needs and it will reinforce our philosophy that it takes a tribe to raise a child. Through having patience, we will be able to provide for the needs of the community, the community will thrive and therefore we will thrive. This project will be handed down for generations as a center for healing and knowledge. Our hopes are that the knowledge and wisdom that was slaughtered in the genocide, will begin to be reestablished and trickle into the surrounding communities… 🙂
As for now, we continue to fund raise, it’s so important we have a community well dug and a Khmer family living on site and ready to start farming at the start of this rainy season May/June. Fundraising will take place again across the US and the UK in June, July and August. This will allow us to return in September and start to build a community center/ school for all residents of Kampong Chin, along with becoming sustainable enough to support a safe home.
It has been quite a past two weeks! We have broken ground, started clearing the land, meeting local people and establishing connections for Our Community Program. We’ve met several Good Hearted People who want to help our project and have been working on collaborating with them, whilst bringing a dream team together. It’s an inspiring project to be apart of and see the curiosity and excitement multiplying in the villagers and in ourselves.
As we’ve been progressing, there have been many lessons we have become aware of and are learning. Patience is of the most prominent of them. We’ve been seeing the importance of establishing ourselves in the community, gaining trust, sharing resources, bringing knowledge to the community and getting our farm sustainable enough to foster children. It is a long-term project, things will evolve in their time. As for now, it is a beautiful journey that we feel blessed to be apart of. We are working in such a monetarily poor village, but WOW, are they rich in their hearts. It always such a joy to drive through town and share the smiles, waves and nods of approval. I feel us starting to sink our roots down.