Dear friends and partners,
In this month of March when the country is in its fourth month of the dry season I would like to talk about the impact of water in the lives of so many of our families. Water is life – it allows our families to grow three to four crops of rice each year – despite the dry season. It allows our families to grow gardens full of vegetables and fruit trees. It allows our families to raise animals such as chickens, pigs and ducks throughout the year.
Savings provides our families with the capacity to dream of improving their lives in so many ways. The gift of water enhances that process tenfold. Our families dream of educating their children – giving the young people the opportunity to explore new ways of thinking – new ways of doing. The miracles this past year is the innovation these young people bring home from their studies. Let me share several examples.
In Prey Veng, the young people came home with the concepts of raising catfish in a homemade fish tank – fish is the second staple of Cambodian life – it is their major source of protein. The young people taught their parents how to raise water from the well without using an electric motor – simply by extending the pipe several meters skyward and providing suction to bring up the water – bringing more water at a much lower cost – resulting in a fish pond that net their parents a minimum of $17,000 USD every year – for families that earned less than $360 USD per year – it makes big dreams possible!
In Svay Rieng the raising of catfish and fresh water lobsters in homemade ponds – raise the incomes of families by $10,000 a year – a very welcome income in addition to growing numerous rice crops, chickens and pigs. Ideas brought home from young people attending colleges in various parts of Cambodia – coming home to parents who are now working together as partners – coming home to improved housing and new excitement -coming home to new respect.
In Kep – water and savings for dreams has led to several unusual innovations -innovations never thought possible – never dreamed. Nget Soun started with us seven years ago – he lived in a mean thatch shack with 5 children. Today those children live in a row beside his house – each child an adult and raising their own children, Besides the pigs and chickens and rice, his one son is now bottling water –he has a water bottling machine and sells water to people having parties of all sorts in the neighboring villages. Who would have thought of that! How wonderful it is to see three generations living near each other – each having innovative ways of earning money – no one living in a hut anymore – all so proud of what they have achieved – all thinking of doing more.
And then there is Taing Chreng – whose children came home with the concept of raising birds – birds who build their nests with saliva and whose nests are harvested to make bird soup – a specialty for Chinese herbalists – thought to be a cure for so many ailments – a small fortune to be made.
The stories are endless for so many of you like the Wagners, Bill Szeibol, SHARE, our house building teams – all of you have made this happen. But it is still not enough – we have 6000 families waiting – waiting for this gift of life – waiting to enhance their abilities to dream big dreams, waiting to live together as husband and wife – partners in life – waiting for their children to be educated – to make unheard of dreams to come true.
I thank my God for each of you who stand with these families; I thank my God for the privilege of being a small part of the changes in the lives of these families. It cannot get any better!