Last week volunteers and staff from Globalteer’s Clean Water Project joined forces with volunteers and staff at our Cambodia Community Project to bring clean drinking water to more than 300 children at our project in a rural village outside Siem Reap.
A life-saving gift
The Clean Water Project team delivered two new bio-sand filters to the community project ensuring that 300 young students will have access to clean drinking water every day. Contaminated water is a major cause of sickness in Cambodia and many people simply do not have access to water that is safe to drink. Water-borne diseases are common in rural Cambodia where there is limited access to latrines, combined with limited understanding of good hygiene habits and access to quality health care
Sickness caused by bad water seriously impacts the health of many children, sometimes tragically, and often means students are unable to attend school for long periods of time and adults are unable to work to support their families due to sickness. Clean, free-flowing drinking water at the Cambodia Community Project is the first step that we can take in ensuring these students have the right tools for accessing and understanding health and hygiene.
How it happened
The Clean Water team spent the previous week constructing water filters for the project as well as some to be delivered to poor families or at a small cost to other charities working in in the area. From washing the sand and mixing the concrete to the final day delivery, Globalteer’s volunteers contributed to the whole process. So we’d like to say a huge thank you to Globalteer volunteers Sarah and Yesmeen (from the Clean Water Project) and Sarah and Ellie (from the Community Project) for helping out on delivery day, and also to supporter Mike Bush who donated the funds for the water filters!
The project where the filters were delivered is a bumpy 50-minute ride out of Siem Reap, but the truck driver steered the team skilfully around potholes and rocks while the volunteers bounced along in the back. The students, staff and volunteers at the project received a thorough explanation of how to use the filters before excitedly testing them out.
Not just a 'quick fix'
The filters are very tough and will supply the project with clean drinking water for up to 10 years. Previously the children had relied on clay-pot filters to ensure that the well water was safe to drink, but the old clay filters are not as efficient at removing bacteria and pathogens as the new bio-sand filters, and had also become very slow. Clean Water Project volunteer Yesmeen saw the bio-sand filter as a huge upgrade saying,
“I was shocked at how long it took the original filter to process the water – kids would just give up waiting and drink the dirty water out of the top!”
The new bio-sand filters will filter clean water much more quickly, which is perfect for the thirsty students who cycle up to 1 hour to reach the school.
Part of a long-term solution
Teaching student Ellie, a volunteer at the Cambodia Community Project with fellow teaching student Sarah, explained that one of their main priorities as educators was to create “a happy, and most importantly, safe environment for students to learn in. Safety in Cambodia comes down primarily to the basics; the understanding of hygiene and access to clean drinking water.”
Sarah agreed with Ellie, adding “It is a vital step in the right direction towards educating students about their health and towards the sustainability of the project. The whole experience instilled confidence in me as a volunteer, reaffirming that each contribution is paramount for the future of the beautiful people of Cambodia.”
If you'd like to learn more about either of these projects and find out how you could help us with our work in Cambodia, please visit our Cambodia Community project pages and apply for a volunteer placement.