Oct 25 2011

Recovery after the Siem Reap floods: How to help

Published by at 11:27 am under Volunteering in Cambodia

Following on from the post about organisations working to provide flood relief to hundreds of people in and around Siem Reap, I can provide a little more information on what these organisations are doing and how you can help them; you don’t even need to get wet to do it, as local staff from NGOs and businesses are really stepping up to the mark and working incredibly hard to get out there and do it.

Families in temporary shelters

Families in temporary shelters at Chong Kneas village.

So what can you do? Well, you can start by partying. The much-loved local band Cambojam will be playing outside the Banana Leaf on Pub Street on Friday night at 21:00 in a special session in support of MaD – Making a Difference for Good. This is a joined concert and open mic night, so if you want to sing or play to help them raise funds, feel free to step up!

MaD works with a community that is about 50km outside of Siem Reap on rural development, sanitation, education and poverty relief programmes. They have already delivered relief supplies for 33 families in the village, as well as providing medical support and rebuilding a bridge that had been washed away. Because the families cannot store the rice in their homes, MaD will be making the trip as many times as is necessary to make sure that these people don’t starve. I’ll be joining them tomorrow and will post pictures so you can see what they’re doing.

Cambojam is a hugely popular group of expats and locals whose lively covers of popular rock and pop songs create an energy that’s hard to beat. Their gigs on Pub Street always generate a big, and happy, crowd.

Debriefing the volunteers, including staff and management from the three hotels and Exotissimo Travel

Debriefing the volunteers, including staff and management from hotels and Exotissimo Travel.

For more on the party front, The  Station has confirmed that its Saturday night Spectacular Lady Boy Review will be held in aid of flood relief. This friendly bar, owned by an Australian wine enthusiast, is new on the scene and steadily building a solid reputation for a good night out, as well as an excellent wine list. The revues will be in aid of flood relief until at least 10 December.

Grace House has been bringing relief supplies to hundreds of families in the southeast part of town worst affected by the floods. This is a small organisation, but is very well integrated with the local community. Their support to that community has been facilitated by support from Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor and the Soria Moria Hotel on Wat Bo Road. You can support their work by contacting Grace House, or walking into one of the hotels.

Green Gecko kids packing up 6 tonnes of rice, 2000 tins of fish and 400 bottles of soy sauce

Green Gecko kids packing up 6 tonnes of rice, 2000 tins of fish and 400 bottles of soy sauce.

The river road to Chong Kneas, where Grace House is based, has been hammered by the floods, and the communities affected not just by the Siem Reap river over-running its banks but also by the Tonle Sap lake, which is pushing far beyond its usual boundaries. They are literally sandwiched by two disastrous forces, even one of which alone would have caused enormous problems. According to Grace House, the people are in “desperate survival” stages and help just can’t get there quick enough.

It's heavy work!

It's heavy work!

I joined the Green Gecko Project last week when they coordinated the delivery of relief supplies to 400 families in the same riverside area. For each family, 15kg of rice, 5 tins of fish, soy sauce and 20 litres of water were packaged and delivered. The beauty of it was not just the smiles on the faces of the people, but the fact that this whole initiative was largely developed and operated by the Green Gecko kids themselves, kids who not long ago were pestering tourists for money on the streets of Siem Reap. These kids now have the confidence and ability to do amazing things like raise sufficient funds to support almost 2,00o families — and that’s only so far. On Sunday, they delivered relief to another 400 families in neighbouring Kampong Thom province, and are gearing up for more drops this week. Their donation page is here.

Families wait patiently in the sun

Families wait patiently in the sun.

These kids are another example of why giving to street kids is a disastrous idea – far better to give to organisations like the Green Gecko, the Sangkheum Centre or Anjali House, who get them off the streets and give them the tools to shape their own lives. Moreover, because this programme is locally driven, it has the capacity to look beyond its immediate goals and create benefits for others. The majority of the rice purchased by Green Gecko came from the Ibis Rice project, a conservation project based in Preah Vihear province so they have helped the community there too. They were able to do this thanks to their connections with the Sam Veasna Centre, a partner of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which is behind the Ibis Rice project.

Chong Kneas was a disaster

Chong Kneas was a disaster.

These are just some of the organisations that you can help. Please take the time to check out their Facebook pages for more pictures of what they’re doing. They, and the communities they’re helping, desperately need your support.

Families are showing signs of ill-health

Families are showing signs of ill-health.

Imagine living in this during a tropical storm!

Imagine living in this during a tropical storm.

Helping Cambodians to help each - a recipe for SUCCESS!!

Helping Cambodians to help each other.


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5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Recovery after the Siem Reap floods: How to help”

  1. Duncan Stuarton 04 Nov 2011 at 7:36 am

    Great story and good effort by Green Gecko. In fact there seems to be a rise in the number of locally run organisations taking the initiative in these events. I support Savong School, and right after the floods Savong contacted supporters, raised $2,800 and donated this through Red Cross – and they jointly purchased and donated food to 200 families who had lost their rice crops.

    A few years ago I’m not sure that different organisations in Cambodia would have been working hand in hand like this – but the local community is becoming a lot more pro-active.

    Thanks for posting the story. Green Gecko, the Sangkheum Centre and Anjali House should be congratulated.

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