Today we had the opportunity to meet with an organization called Life with Dignity, which was developed by the Lutheran World Federation. They informed us of their ongoing projects for cleaner water, women's rights, land development, and land mine removal for much of the rural parts of Cambodia. Their goal is to empower the residents by educating them about their rights and building leadership so that the community can continue being successful even after the organization has moved on to work in another area.
After hearing from the local director, we visited a village that Life with Dignity is working with. We had to switch from riding the bus to the Life with Dignity trucks due to the rough road conditions. Because it has never been paved, the roads from the highway to the village are very damaged from the rainy seasons. This is one of the main projects for Life with Dignity to complete in the village. The lack of a paved road makes it very difficult for villagers to leave to get supplies or to go to high school which is outside of the community. The village plans to pave the road with clay when they are able to raise the funds.
Another project that this organization encourages is a central village bank. This bank is used to loan the villagers money. The bank loans up to $85 dollars (which is enough to buy farming supplies) at a 3 % per month interest rate with the interest staying in the community. The villagers are required to submit a plan for which they will be using and paying off the loan.
After a delicious meal cooked for us by the village, we went to the primary school to play games, sing songs, and do crafts with the children. Prior to playing with the children, we had an opportunity to discuss education with the director of the school. The school has 8 teachers for over 300 students who come in either the afternoon or morning sessions. We began playing games with just 5th and 6th grade students. However many of the younger children joined in on the fun. We had the students split into four groups. There was a group playing soccer, a group making masks out of paper plates, a group playing duck, duck, goose (or duck duck slap), and a group singing/dancing. The kids were eager to participate and the afternoon was filled with many smiles and much laughter.
In order to get back to the bus, we had to take two trips so the second group enjoyed a game of volleyball with the children/faculty.