Monday, March 4, 2013

Water Towers & Rice Mountain

Dear Friends,

We hope this finds you all well.

Water Tower
The two solar powered water projects and rice bank are now finished and together with the community we celebrated these great assets for their schools and villages on February 24th and 25th. The community men pitched in to build the rice bank on a volunteer basis. The water projects went very well, the builders were committed to doing a good job and both projects were done in a timely manner and on budget. We had one hitch in that we had to drill three holes at Kauk Chrey until the drillers were satisfied that the water supply would be adequate.

Clear, Clean Water
The celebration was amazing. The community came out in full force (hundreds of people). There were many moving speeches and many thanks given to everyone who contributed to the two water towers and rice bank. The commune chiefs, village chiefs and the head of the district education committee thanked Compassionate Eye Foundation for funding the Kauk Chrey School water tower and they thanked K.I.D.S. donors for funding the rice bank at Kauk Chrey and water tower at Kchey School. They asked us to pass along their wishes for a long life, good health and many blessings to you all. We thanked those who contributed to the water projects and rice bank and talked about the wonderful community of supporters K.I.D.S. has in Canada and afar.

boiling pots
After the speeches there was a huge dinner with Khmer noodles and curry for everyone. The tents were up and the pots were boiling. We had a rest at a friend’s house in the early evening and then we all (22 of us) loaded into the back of a dump truck and went to the evening celebration. It was like being a kid, riding in the back of the truck with the full moon shining brightly as we bumped along the country road ducking under trees and hanging on. When we got to the school they had a big screen (sheet) with movies for the kids and in another area there was dancing for the adults. We danced Khmer style in a circle for an hour or so and a great time was had by all.

Blessing by the monks
The next morning we went to the blessing by the monks, with a smaller group of officials, elders and community members. They had a white thread tying together the water tower, rice bank and the platform where the monks were, so everything was connected. We sat with the dignitaries and elders in front of the monks while they blessed the water towers, rice bank and all those that helped to improve the lives of children and families in this area. After the initial blessing we and the community members lined up to put a spoonful of cooked rice into each monk’s bowl as well as one other bowl, made of banana leaf, that represented the ancestors and mother nature; this would be buried and go back to the earth. Once this ritual was finished we went back and gave the monks the rice bowls and all had another simple meal together.

Rice Delivery
Throughout the two day celebration the villagers kept streaming in with their contributions to the rice bank, a few coming on motorcycles, but most pushing a bicycle loaded with sacks of rice and many more walking in with sacks or baskets on their heads. The amounts were weighed and registered; some brought huge sacks and others, who were very poor, brought little more than a few handfuls but all wanted to be a part of this community effort and gave what they could. They put it together in a pile to make a “rice mountain”, that by the end of the event weighed 3,337 kilograms. K.I.D.S provides a food program for 50 of the most 
Rice Mountain
desperate children at this school so the rice will help to feed the children at the school between rice harvests. The community will continue to contribute at harvest times to keep the rice bank stocked in the future. If some of the villagers have a bad harvest they can borrow rice and pay back with rice and if they cannot pay back they can have no one will be starving; it was inspiring to see this kind of community effort and generosity from those who have so little. During the ceremony many villagers made a circle around the rice mountain and passed candles around the rice 7 times to honour and bless the food that sustains them.

Fresh water
We have had a lot of experience in Cambodia and have felt very good about many projects and the benefits to the communities we have worked in. This project, in this particular community, will also have a major impact. We had written earlier in our blogs that as the weeks pass and we get deeper and deeper into the dry season, the ponds, ditches and residential wells have all but dried up and the search for water becomes a consuming task for children and families. The basic need for water for the children and their families at Kauk Chrey and Kchey school communities has now been met in a way that they could only have dreamed about before. The water is filtered three times and runs through a UV light and comes out as clear and clean as water at home. It was great to watch the constant coming and going to the water station as the children and people drank, filled their water bottles, containers and washed faces and hands.

We are now in Myanmar for a week and will return to Cambodia on March 11th.

In Friendship,

Adrianne and Rick