Dave's work in Cambodia
As many of you know, I came to Cambodia to work with an NGO (New Life Foundation) helping out with their micro-enterprise development department. This department focuses on giving rural villagers the training, motivation, and opportunity to begin their own small enterprises to provide for their basic needs.   I've spent most of my time helping plan for 2005 and writing proposals for funding.   I've also been out in the villages, visiting current and potential project locations. To give you an idea of the work, let me describe a few projects.
One project currently underway is the Kampong Thom chicken project. Kampong Thom is a village about three hours drive outside of Phnom Penh. Here, a few men were trained in raising chickens and provided with the means to obtain a few hundred chickens. A large chicken coop was even been built. The chickens can be used to provide good meals for the families, and eggs can be sold to provide income. Unfortunately, when I visited, the chicken coops were empty. Where were the chickens??? They were wandering about freely, catching chicken diseases, being eaten by rogue beasts, and being stolen. Chickens were dieing and their numbers slowly dwindling! Why weren't the owners taking care of them? One thing I am learning is that development work takes time. Much patience, perserverence, and local understanding is needed.
Also in Kampong Thom, NLF is planning to start a brown sugar project. An order for 3 tons of sugar per year has been found, and the resources (palm trees) needed to produce the sugar are available. Recently, I visited a successful brown sugar enterprise supported by another NGO to learn about their production methods. NLF is currently finding interested participants and beginning training.
The NLF development department.
(Engchy, Reasmey, Chanak, Mara, and Dave)
A new house for the infamous chicken project.
Dave hard at work in the sugar factory.
NLF team in the ricefields of Kraing Yov.
NLF vehicle for provincial travel.
Dave's free time
In my spare time, I've been getting accustomed to life in Cambodia ... familiarizing myself with Phnom Penh, meandering around the local market places, basking in the warmth and sunshine. In Cambodia, nearly everyone gets around by motobike, so naturally I had to get one. The roads in Cambodia are chaotic (to put it mildly). At any moment from any direction, there WILL be a motorbike coming. If not a motorbike, perhaps a small wandering child, or maybe some deranged dog, chicken, or cow. I've come to half expect things to come burrowing out of the road or raining down from the sky. But fortunately, many hours mountain biking this past year prepared me with cat-like agility and invaluable experience flying over handle bars. I wear a helmet religiously here.
Notable activities have included visiting the Phnom Penh riverside during the Water Festival, taking a trip to the beach over the Christmas holidays with a friend, and attending a Cambodian wedding (no ... I'm NOT married now). I've also been checking out the local Cambodian gym, where I believe I may be the first white person to have ever visited. The food has been good, and I'll eat pretty much anything and everything. (except of course the "white death," a.k.a. mayo) I haven't had a chance to try the dog's head yet, but maybe before I leave. For those of you worried about me somehow being isolated from precious commodities like ice cream and hamburgers, you'll be happy to know that the Lucky Supermarket and Restaurant chain is well stocked with all things Western. I've actually been surprised to find quite a few restaurants and shopping malls geared toward foreigners and wealthy Cambodians. Well, I know this update doesn't even begin to describe my experience in Cambodia, but I hope you at least enjoy the photos.
Dave and his bike.
Merry Christmas, 2004.
Danger is around every corner in Cambodia.
Back to Cambodia 2004-2005