by Sean Sutton, International Communications Manager, MAG
It is nearing the end of the rain season here in Cambodia. I visited Buor Sankreak village to see life along the swollen water canal. It was a hive of activity, with men, woman and children making the most of the seasonal abundance of fish.
Some children were using baited hooks to snare small fish, others were using hand nets to scoop them out of the river. Fishermen were throwing nets every twenty metres along the channel. It was going to be a fish feast tonight.
Most of the smaller fish are left to ferment to produce ‘prahoc’, a very strong but nutritious sauce that can also be dried and preserved. Nutritious or not, this is not for me. The smell gives some indication of the taste.
Nearby, women were harvesting rice and groups of cows stood in close huddles, feeding on vibrant green grass: an idyllic setting - typical of Cambodian rural life. »
» During the war in Cambodia, landmines were used both offensively and defensively. Trees providing shade and shelter, solid structures such as temple buildings, and water sources were all commonly mined to deny them to the enemy.
When the community returned to Buor Sangkreak village they discovered that the old water canal running through the village and the surrounding rice paddies, connecting two water sources, was mined. This had a massive impact on the community and affected 584 villages in the area.
“We couldn’t irrigate the paddies and give water to the cows in the dry season, so we could only grow one rice crop per year. It was really bad,” said Chuen Chorn. “It was overgrown and we couldn’t do anything.”
“Then MAG came to clear mines, and little by little living has improved.”
MAG cleared almost 50,000m2 along the channel and found five anti-personnel landmines. One of MAG’s development partners, Life With Dignity, worked with the Commune Development Fund and villagers to rebuild the canal, and life in the area has been transformed.
Chuen Chorn: “We have a road and we can grow dry season rice. Things are progressing bit by bit. We can fish and we will prosper in the future. Progress ahead, progress ahead. Thank you MAG.”
Ros Sophon, 41, added: “I’m so excited about what MAG has done in my village; we have a long canal now that is very useful - especially for agriculture activities such as rice farming, fruit trees and vegetables. Now I make enough money to send my children to school.”