V I R's projects consider the situation of every individual family member, focus on what they can do (labour, skill, and interest) and encourage them to use their skills to better their lives. The very poor cannot afford to take risks for long-term investment and are therefore forced into making decisions for short-term benefit only.
We do not expect them to participate in a large program, but we work with them on small projects to help generate income. The idea is to get a family to run multiple projects simultaneously, so that in case of one unexpected failure, other occupations will provide income as a means of contingency.
Poor hygiene can lead to a myriad of bacterial, viral, and parasitic health problems. These include diarrhea, hepatitis, hookworm, and gastroenteritis. Hand hygiene is particularly important, as hands come in contact with food, children, and other parts of the body, including the mouth.
With the changing climate in Cambodia and the annual struggles posed by the lack of available water during the dry season, some rural Cambodians must adapt their farming practices to maintain sustainability. VIR helps these communities to establish efficient agricultural techniques, ranging from crop harvest to livestock maintenance.
This project encourages the local community to form a group in order to write simple handwritten proposals that will be presented to donors for projects such as the cow bank, rice bank, canal building, road infrastructure, committee transport, wells, farms, supply chains, and others. VIR assists the community in drafting the proposals.
The members are trained in how to form their own committees for independently maintaining the projects, which increases ownership and autonomy. This project looks to provide sustainable livelihood to the community. VIR assists the community by coaching them through idea development.
A number of families have access to a small plot of land that can be used for gardening. When families are unsure of what to plant, the VIR team provides advice on what could be done according to the seasons so that the local people have the knowledge to take the necessary steps in crop cultivation. This is a simple activity that the rural community members can implement.
IMPROVING AGRICULTURAL TECHNIQUES
School attendance for children is obligatory in Cambodia, but not one that is enforced. It is common for children to stay home and work for their families, especially those in rural areas who have limited access or funds for school equipment and whose families need them to work to help make money. All children have the right to go to school and VIR try and make this a possibility for as many of the rural communities they work with.
VIR has closely collaborated with local NGOs and communities to conduct the Commune Debate, inviting commune council candidates from the other parties. As part of this activity, a parliamentarian is invited along with the community members to nominate an orator for solving issues that the communities raise on topics such as human rights, children's rights, & women's rights.
GRANTS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
Over 12 million members (nearly 80%) of the Cambodian population lives in rural areas. Of these, almost 5 million fall beneath the poverty line. Rural Cambodians account for 90% of the total impoverished population in the country. The combination of rural life with poverty means that these communities have difficulty being able to access and afford basic healthcare services.
LATRINE BUILDING PROJECT
The VIR team follows-up the various projects with home visits to rural communities. They enable the VIR team to observe the status of projects and prevent unnecessary deviation. VIR can also consult the community about problems and assist them in finding solutions. As part of this visit, plans for subsequent visits (including timetables) are discussed.
COW BANK PROJECT
VIR has to-date provided 320 families with water filters and continues to do so. Community members are moreover educated about digging wells and installing pumps to increase the number of clean water sources.
HAND HYGIENE EDUCATION
VIR provides financial support through small loans and grants that are used to advance income-generating activities such as producing and selling handcrafts, raising livestock, or home gardening. These loans have the benefit of encouraging the community to focus not only on short-term needs but also on the long-term goal of sustainability.
If the issue cannot be solved locally, then the parliamentarian is requested to take it further within the government in order to receive the appropriate assistance.
In Cambodia, unsafe cooking often facilitates the spread of diseases. Eating contaminated food leads to infections such as typhoid fever, diarrhea and intestinal worms. VIR’s goal is to prevent this through providing the community with the necessary skills to cook safely. These practices include washing and peeling fruits and vegetables, cooking the meat properly, and boiling water.
Cow Bank is a project whereby a cow is loaned to a village family. The cow is used for ploughing the land, transporting agricultural products, sale to other businesses, renting to other village families and generating natural fertilizer. Through this project, the family benefits in many ways and their standard of living increases.
CHICKEN & PIG RAISING PROJECT
SAFE COOKING PRACTICES
WATER FILTRATION PROJECT
Beneficiaries are also educated about the necessary preparatory measures to reduce damage caused by extreme weather conditions. Health center staff are also employed to identify and provide treatment during the times of disaster.
This activity provides data for the VIR team to write reports to donors and also enables future plans for similar projects to be more efficient. Home visits are a good opportunity for VIR staff to learn of successes with other NGOs and to share the lessons learned from these beneficiaries.
The poor require vocational skills to have better access to income through local jobs and as a result reduce migration away from their homes. This enables the adult population to work in their home villages. Because a good school education is the key to getting access to good local jobs in the future, VIR is providing school material to children living in the target areas.
HOME GARDENING PROJECT
VIR provides the tools necessary for hand hygiene, primarily soap, and gives demonstrations and training for how to maintain hygienic hands. This is an inexpensive and effective way to help prevent the spread of disease associated with unsanitary environments.
As part of the project, the cow is expected to produce a calf, which after a year is either collected back to give to another family or the equivalent cost is collected and re-invested back into the community. VIR has 20 cows as part of their projects (July 2015 count) and the numbers continue to increase in order to meet the needs of the effected families.
CHILD EDUCATION + PROTECTION
Access to clean drinking water is a constant challenge in Cambodia. A lot of stagnated, unclean water from ditches is used for drinking, which causes severe water born diseases such as typhoid fever, diarrhea, etc. The quickest means to solve this issue is by educating the families on personal hygiene (e.g. washing hands and keeping the house clean) and equipping them with the tools to purify water.
A large number of homes either do not have a roof or have a broken roof, which cannot sustain occupants in hot or rainy conditions. It may also lead to embarrassment or decreased self-esteem within families. This causes lowered quality of life. As a result, one of VIR’s key projects is to install new zinc roofs to the effected families. This project has to-date provided roofing for 152 families. The villagers in turn take up the installation activities using their vocational skills.
A significant portion of the rural community lacks basic education, which is a root cause of many of the issues they are constantly facing. In order to resolve the issues, education is provided on a number of carefully chosen topics, which have been broken into three models as shown on the right. As part of the three models, the members are taught to read and write, as well as basic arithmetic to solve everyday problems.
V U L N E R A B I L I T Y & I L L I T E R A C Y R E D U C T I O N
Disaster relief supports victims of fire, flood, and famine. Additionally, educating beneficiaries about the safety provided by high ground, proper food consumption, water filters, and cooperation with village authorities regarding weather forecasts achieves preventative risk mitigation.
Many Cambodian households in the countryside do not have latrines with roofs and are therefore forced to defecate outdoors. This presents major health and safety risks ranging from diarrhea to enteropathy. VIR's responsibility is to assist in the building community latrines in the villages; it only takes $70 to build one!
COMMUNITY INITIATIVE PROJECT
DISTRICT FORUM CANDIDATE DEBATE
Families are educated about how to effectively raise livestock. Once they understand the core concepts, they are provided with a small amount of capital to buy livestock. There is an animal husbandry setup in the village to help treat any illnesses the livestock may develop. This project is very accessible for rural villagers, requires minimal capital, and is simple to maintain. This is an example of a project that helps villagers to think long term.
To encourage their attendance VIR use their funding to provide the children with vital school equipment and for those who need it, they provide bikes for transport to and from school.
VIR also holds community meetings with children to teach them about their rights against child abuse and how to protect themselves from assaults and ambushes.
This can be combined with other activities such as nutritional education (e.g. what vitamins do vegetables contain), which subsequently provides many health benefits. The villages can also earn money by selling surplus stock. This process also educates the villages about the advantages of making compost, which is beneficial for further educating the generations to come.
VIR works to solve this issue by providing health referrals to poor rural families. Health issues are reported either to a key community contact, who then contacts VIR, or directly to VIR staff during village visits. VIR then provides compensated transportation to and from a healthcare clinic or hospital and ensures that the patient gets all of the services required.
| MODEL 1 |
DAILY LIFE of the rural countryside is discussed, including the issues that are faced and what can be done to resolve them. The topics include agriculture and food securities, and how to live a healthy and safe life as a farmer.
| MODEL 2 |
CIVIL RIGHTS EDUCATION is provided to the community. Main legal issues discussed are children rights, gender rights and basic land law. Furthermore, community members are educated about their human rights.
| MODEL 3 |
HEALTHCARE EDUCATION: common diseases, their symptoms, their cures, and preventative measures are discussed. Practical advice is given to the villagers, such as how to construct latrines, keeping the own living space clean and sleeping under a mosquito net. Also, essential hygienic material is provided to the community by VIR.