Stung Treng Province, one of Cambodia's most remote and poorest provinces.
Youth With A Mission (YWAM), Cambodia; an organisation committed to whole-of-life transformation in communities in Cambodia. Baptist World Aid funds some of their health projects, but they are also involved in church planting and leadership development.
With limited access to safe water, nutritious food and a lack of knowledge about sanitation, good health is rare in this remote area of Cambodia. Traditional health providers tend to have little or no training and are often illiterate. Pregnant women don’t want to travel too far from home and are often suspicious of hospitals and health centres, but they have little access to trained midwives locally. The incidence of malaria is slowly decreasing, but many people are still at risk, especially children.
YWAM has been working to overcome these difficulties by:
- training village health volunteers in health and sanitation so they can share their knowledge within their communities.
- training farmers in better agriculture techniques to increase yields, as well as training in fish-farming and raising chickens or pigs.
- encouraging and training people to grow vegetables so they have nutritious food all year round.
- supporting women’s and mothers' groups to help improve child and maternal health.
- reducing diarrhoea in children and adults by providing education around sanitation and ensuring access to safe water sources or water filters and household latrines.
- training local traditional birth attendants to provide pre and post-natal care, and encourage mothers to give birth at a health centre.
- providing low cost mosquito nets and some training in ways to prevent malaria and dengue fever.
- supporting literacy classes in a local, ethnic minority group, where classes are run by trained volunteers from that group. The classes focus first on literacy in their own language and then in Khmer, the main language of Cambodia.
This mother's group is only new, but already they can see great changes in their families because of the group. They feel they know so much more, even in this short time!
This mothers group is a chance for education on good nutrition, hygiene, pneumonia, childhood vaccinations and pre and post natal health. While the lesson is led by YWAM staff, there is a lot of participation from the women, answering questions and sharing their experiences.
Many of the women here wanted to join so that they could learn about diseases and how to be healthy, for themselves and their families. They want their families to be healthy and happy.
One woman shares that now she knows to boil her water and clean her vegetables thoroughly before eating. Another now has a toilet at home. Yet another shares about the variety her family now has in their diet. "For a long time I didn’t know about hygiene, how to do things, what made us sick," says one mother. "I want to know for the future."