In July 2008 I went to Cambodia with my brother and his family. We arrived at the Thailand/Cambodia border to drive to Siem Reap. This of course is a tourist destination with Angkor Wat, and temples dating back to 600 A.D. The trip to Siem Reap from the border is about a two-hourdrive by car. This gave me a time to see some of the countryside. We arrived in Siem Reap and met our guide and translator, Ly Heang. The next three days we explored the temples of Angkor Wat, the Jungle Temple, Bayon and many more. During that time Ly and I talked about his life growing up in the countryside of Cambodia. During Ly’s and my trip to the countryside, children were waving, smiling and shouting hello even though the entire time they were working in the fields, fishing for food or just walking along the roadside. Still being a bit of a tourist, of course, I’m taking pictures of all of this. Then it happened!!!!! An older woman walked over to me and apologized for intruding, but wondered if I wouldn’t mind taking a picture of her. I said I’d love to and asked her why?

She responded she had never seen anyone with a camera before and would like a picture of herself to give to her children before she died. I took the picture and when we got back into the city I had it developed and framed. The next day I brought the picture back and gave it to her. Tears came to her eyes. I never realized that such a small thing could bring such happiness. To make a long story short, I found out that her husband was the village chief and was later introduced to him. We had many conversations over the next few days. I went back to Cambodia four months later and couldn’t wait to get out to the village. This trip was not just for pictures. Ly Heang and I put in seven clean water hand pumping wells in the villages. One pump can provide clean water for 25 to 80 people. By the end of August 2009, we had 80 pumping wells installed and in operation. We have also done new construction and improvements on schools in the villages in addition to installing clean water pumps and various other projects for the children’s schools. We are always stumbling on other projects as well and the cost is always minimal. My story along with these pictures can only show you part of the feeling and difference people can make when they work together. If this is something you would like to contribute to, every $1.00 goes along way in Cambodia and I assure you 100% of your dollarswill go directly to helping the poor in the countryside of Cambodia as we have no overhead or administrative fees. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. The story of my translator and guide, Ly Heang, shows a more in-depth look at the history and current struggles in Cambodia. We hope after reading our stories and information that you will realize what one pumping well can do for the lively hood of many Thank you.
In 1976 Ly Heang’s family was moved by the Khmer Rouge Government from the southern part of the countryside to the Northern side of Siem Reap to be rice farmers. “This is the place where I grew up. In 1979 my family was moved one more time, closer to the countryside of Siem Reap. This place was called Kchas village. Kchas village has remained one unforgettable bitter experience of my life. My family hadone soil well (hand-dug well) in front of the house approximately 4.50 meters deep, and this well supplied 10 people in my family. I have heard many times about villagers not having enough water. In some years my soil well dried up due to summer, so my brother had to go to a well nearby. It was very hard to do alone and I was too small to carry water then. One day all my brothers and sisters went to play with some friends and others went to the market. With the exception of my eldest sister. She stayed and cleaned the rubbish from under the house. I was lonely and there was nothing to do. Just then I got a silly idea to check the water level in the soil well. So I walk over to coconut tree and took a dead branch off to make a water measuring stick. Wow! I looked at the branch and it was too short to reach the water. so I moved further into the well, but still the stick was too short, so I just keep moving more and more like a snake moves, into the well until the branch reached the water. I was so happy. My body had become lighter and lighter till I fell into the well and inhaled a lot of water. Luckily my mom had just bought a pig not so big but as heavy as I was. My sister heard a sound of falling but she didn’t pay much attention but thought maybe someone’s pig fell in the well because in the countryside animals move around freely. She stopped cleaning and thought of her pig and ran as fast as she could to see what happened. To her surprise, after seeing my hair floating, she screamed “brother, brother is that you?” I could not answer and she jumped into the well and grabbed me. She called all the men nearby my house to help. After, some of the men took my legs and shook my body to get the water out from my lungs. They put me on a bed in front of my house beside the fire and smacked me on the bottom for approximately 10 to 20 minutes.
Ladies and gentlemen, that is my story. Because this happened that is why my heart tells me every day to help others, and throughout my experiences I have learned that I can help the poor people in my country as I have the knowledge to deal with local issues and local partners to accomplish the first steps to overcoming poverty. It has become my hobby and passion, which means no donor will ever pay my salary. Separate from my work as a tour guide, I use all my non-working hours to help the poor people of Cambodia to have a better, safe life with clean water to use every day of their lives. Thank you, Ly