Water and its impact on our families

Dear Friends and partners, publish as 6th Sept

Today I would like to share the impact of water on our families.  With a change of attitude through savings, a source of dependable water has the greatest impact on our families.  This past 12 months we were able to install 2,597 sources of water which directly impacted 5,350 families.  What we mean by direct is that the water sources are installed for specific families because these families must be able to earn an income from the water – but, families in the community who do not have their own water source do have free access to the water for family use – uses like taking baths, washing clothes, water for cooking and cleaning.

The impact on our families is immense – their spendable income changes dramatically from less than 50 cents a day to an average of $6000 USD per year ($16.00 per day).  How is this done?  For families who have land suitable for growing rice: the change is from growing rice just once a year to growing rice year round.  When I visited our Takeo project a few weeks ago, I was stunned by the intelligence of our families.  The families had an average of 2 hectares of land but the land was broken into various plots of differing sizes.  What the families were doing was growing rice at different stages – when I arrived a number of plots were being harvested, in other plots the rice was half grown and in others they were just beginning to plant rice.  The effect was amazing as our families were constantly harvesting and earning incomes every month from the rice they were growing.  One lady, Theira, was so excited – her eyes full of joy as she showed me her various plots being harvested that day; plots that were half grown and plots they were re-planting.  But it is the men who make it so very clear the impact this has on their lives.  A consistent comment from the men – who stand proud and defiant before me is –“I bought my children back.”  I cannot begin to imagine under what circumstances so many of the men chose to sell their children – but I do know the circumstances that are bringing the children home.  10,356 of our families began growing rice year round this past program year.

For our families who have land that is not suitable for growing rice, growing vegetables of all kinds brings about change.  Last week in our Kandal project I visited 60 hectares of newly grown vegetables.  What a joy it was to see – better yet – how delicious the vegetables are to eat.  The variety of vegetables is amazing – corn, tomatoes, lettuces of all kinds …– it’s the ones like Spanish onions, large green peppers and ginger that really surprises me.  I never knew that Cambodia could grow such a wide variety of foods.  9,120 families were able to begin raising vegetables this past year.

For families whose land is not large enough to grow vegetables and rice for sale – the raising of animals takes a priority.  This year, 11,382 families were able to start raising pigs, 14,896 families began raising chickens and ducks, and another 532 families started raising fish and frogs.   The ingenuity of some of our families always amazes me – raising crickets as an additional source of income gave me the shivers.

This year, 3,420 hectares of land were put under year round cultivation.  This is in addition to the 21,700 hectares put under cultivation in the past five years.  Turning Cambodia green year round is our vision for that means all our families will be able to eat well, earn a decent spendable income, live with dignity and respect.  The next 12 months we have plans to install another 3,433 sources of water making our vision another step closer to reality.

I thank each of you who have made this possible with your donations of wells and ponds.  I am so grateful to my God that He allows me to have such visions.  I am so grateful that each of you stands with us in this journey.

Janne Ritskes