Visiting Cambodia with Aid Agency Samaritan’s Purse

When I visited Cambodia earlier this month, I saw first-hand the impact of the political tragedy of the Pol Pot era, during the 1970s. Even though it happened 30 years ago, it makes modern day life in Cambodia a challenge. Life really does hang in the balance. You can read more about my trip, and what happened during those horrific years HERE.

One of the tragedies that happened as a result of the regime was that millions of Cambodian mothers were separated from their children. They were either sent out to the country to work in the fields, or killed.

The consequence? Sadly, most mothers in Cambodia today do not know how to care for their children, because they were left to fend for themselves as youngsters. It is necessary for NGOs to teach villagers so many basic skills we in the Western world take for granted. Like the importance of washing hands. Why you need to eat more than just rice. How to make nutritional food. Why clean water is so important.

A huge learning experience

My trip with Samaritan’s Purse Australia was an eye-opener for the students I was travelling with. Life in Cambodia was far more difficult than they had ever imagined. They learnt many new things.

For example, a child’s first 1000 days, from conception until their third birthday, are the most important for their future health. This encompasses critical elements of love, care and especially, nutrition.

According to thousanddays.org, “The right nutrition during this 1,000 day window has a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and thrive. And a lasting effect on a country’s health and prosperity.”

The right nutrition during this 1,000 day window has a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and thrive

In addition, Thousand Days  says, “The damage done by malnutrition during the first years of a child’s life translates into a huge economic burden for countries. This costs billions of dollars in lost productivity and avoidable health care costs.”

Exactly the terrible situation Cambodia finds itself in. It requires the efforts of other more prosperous nations to rectify the situation. It is a long-term fix. Over time, Cambodia will receive the hand up it needs to become a thriving nation once again.

And it is possible. Thousand Days again: “By focusing on improving nutrition during the critical first 1,000 days, much of the serious and irreparable damage caused by hunger and malnutrition can be prevented.”

Life in Cambodia – changed forever

In Cambodia, the Samaritan’s Purse STAR Projects are literally changing the landscape. STAR = “Strong, Tall And Robust”. These projects specifically target Maternal and Child Health; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; and Health and Nutrition. Over the next three weeks, my blog posts will describe how we saw these projects working.

Life in Cambodia is literally changing overnight for those who are receiving this level of assistance and training. The adults of the future have a much better start. This is because mothers are learning how critical those first thousand days are in each child’s development.

It’s a good reminder for us here in the West too. The first thousand days are just as important for our kids as well!

In my next post we visit the project which saves lives just about every day.

STAR Projects
A panorama showing a small Cambodian household. Our team helped water vegies such as eggplants and capsicums in the field. We also built walls for a new latrine. This is an example of Samaritan’s Purse at work in the community.

 

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