3 hours after my breakfast in Hochiminh city,
I was in the villages of Kampong Trabek, in
Cambodia. Violent contrast with Vietnam. The
average income in Cambodia is only about 2/3
of the same in Vietnam, and this is one of the
poorest areas of the country. No electricity,
while one hear the cars speeding on the Singapore-Peking
highway, funded by international agencies. Children
under 5 have a mortality rate 3 times higher
than in Vietnam.
the last 18 months I come to assist RADE, a
small local NGO. Reflect on the goals, improve
methods. Mekong Plus provides the funds. Suddenly,
one year ago, the director and founder disappeared
(no, he did not take the funds with him). On
hears he is now in Canada! The team panicked
because none knew the funders, none could say
more than a few words in English. So I learn
Khmer, several hours a day, and slowly begin
to communicate in this new language for me.
Mekong Plus has promised to continue its support
with the condition the board would be strengthened;
this has been done to some extend, it must be
Kuch, is the leader of this team of 5, with
him I visit of few households. Thiry is "alone"
with her 5 children. Half a hectare and one
small harvest of 800 kilos every year. Against
5 tons/ha in Vietnam. One lacks everything in
this village: good seeds, fertilizers, water...
Water? The water table is not so deep: 30 meters;
the Mekong river flows not far, 35 km. «Yes
but we need a pump». I tend to smile as
No need to look for the border:
the green part is in Vietnam…
As soon as RADE helps the people to install
a pump, the area turns green
maybe they could start on a small scale, by
hand. One must not compare with Vietnam, the
Khmer will choose their development, what and
fail to understand: how does she manage? Yes,
she also sells palm leaves stitched together,
which the people buy for their roofs but she
makes 1,5 euro per day at most. Well, this family
survives with about 0,25 euro per person per
requests the villagers to choose the poorest
in their community: a group of 5 is made, saving
is compulsory, deposited at the monthly meeting.
The members talk and share, and encorage each
other. The RADE lends each member 160 euros,
which when added to the savings aloows them
to buy one cow. It is repaid in 3 years, plus
a small interest. No default: the cows are not
sacred but well taken care off, the whole village
watches, knowing RADE could discontinue its
support is the people are not honnest and hard
working. For that matter Mekong Plus is very
srict as well and the experience in Vietnam
may be useful: everyone is involved!
why cows? They are easy to feed, pastures are
plenty. There will be many calves! With the
assistance from Mekong Plus RADE has distributed
The first reimbursements have allowed RADE to
add another 8, and there are already 23 calves!
A cow is essential for the ploughing, wihtout
her cow Thiry would have to spend 25$/year.
Today, in the group and with the neighbors,
one can help each other.
deep poverty of these people makes me impatient,
I would want to move much faster. These naked
children with swolen bellies… so much
time is wasted! 57 cows? Why not 5700 ? But
this is for RADE to decide, how much, how fast.
Besides the cow bank, RADE has also started
a pilot goat bank, irrigation pumps, this reaches
another 110 households.
the 6th April 2006.
|| In Viêt
26 Allée des Erables
tel : +33 (0)1-60657366
avenue des 4 Bonniers, 6
B -1348 Louvain-la-Neuve
tel : +32 (0)10-45.23.02
fax : +32 (0)10-68.13.76
19/30 Tran Binh Trong
P5 Binh Thanh
Hô Chí Minh City
fax : +84 8-894.07.97
GSM : +84 (0)913105189
the address above, for Viêt Nam Plus,
by bank transfer to
(Viêt Nam Plus will deliver
a tax exemption certificate)
068-2414538-41 de Frères des Hommes asbl with the mention:
« Mekong Plus! »
(Mékong Plus will deliver a tax
exemption certificate for any donation above 30 euros)
Square Mê Linh
Ho Chi Minh City
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