I am Konthea, the Community Liaison and Assistance Program Manager. Since I started working for JWOC in 2013 I have felt very happy with what I have accomplished so far. This period of time has given me the chance to provide assistance to the poor villagers in the rural areas around JWOC.
Currently, I am working in a village called, Bang Koang. It is about 28 kilometers to the East of Siem Reap. There are 250 households in this village and most of them are poor families. They work as farmers, construction workers and other seasonal jobs such as fishing. Most women just stay at home, take care of their children and look after the animals. Some of them also like planting vegetables when there is enough water. Anyway, this village is always flooded and people can only plant vegetables between January and March.
Since I started working in this village, my team and I have provided information to people regarding vocational training, health care service and nutrition, and we initiated the Home gardens project to encourage the growth of organic vegetables in the area providing nutritional benefits and also a chance for families to make an income. There are two cycles of the Home Gardens project in this village, while in previous villages there were only one cycle.
One thing that has made me happy is the improvement of my team. Previously, we hired an expert for the whole training period, but this time he was hired for only 60% of the whole process and the rest was done by the scholarship students. They are able and confident enough to provide training to beneficiaries on composting and soil preparation before planting. That is one reason that some of the project cost has decreased.
I want to tell you a story about one of our Home garden beneficiaries. Her name is Pan. She is about 55 years old with eight children. Three of her sons and daughter are married, but the others are still young and need to be supported by her and her husband who has HIV. She lives in a small wooden house on a hill. She is illiterate, but she likes planting. When she joined the Home Garden training she depended on listening and joining the practice at the group leader’s house. Later, when she started doing it on her own, everything was carried out perfectly.
She had previous experience in planting spring onion and chili. Now she is very happy that she knows how to plant cucumber, string bean, bitter gourd and tomato. She told me she never imagined that her hill land could be used for planting this type of vegetable as it is very hard and not rich at all.
Dry and liquid compost has made her land become good and rich. She then, buys more seed on her own to plant more and other kinds of vegetable, kale and eggplant.
Now she has many kinds of vegetable for eating with her own family, share with her neighbors and sell in the village. She told me that the profit she is making from her garden will be used to extend her garden in the near future. There is a well provided by JWOC’s clean water program to three families around including hers, it will enable her to have enough water for all the vegetables.