At the beginning of February 2021, Cambodian ACT-member Life with Dignity (LWD) organized a humanitarian distribution event. Beneficiaries were highly vulnerable families in the Battambang province bordering with Thailand. It was the first time that Roeung Bunthoeun, a 52-year-old small farmer with a handicap, received support.
Roeung Bunthoeun’s right leg is paralysed due to shrapnel hitting his shin while he served as a soldier during the Khmer Rouge era. Today, he lives at the Pou Stev village in the Battambang province, has four children and runs a small farm business. The family owns neither a house nor land, so they rely on a neighbor for housing and to make a living.
On February 3, 2021, Roeung’s family was one of 85 families receive two mosquito nets, a water bucket, a mat, a blanket, and a water bottle. Even though he has an ID-card identifying him as living in poverty, before that the small farmer had never received any support from any organization or from the authorities. He was even more pleased when the LWD staff arrived at his house, because he could directly report his concerns to the organization.
Thankful for the personal contact
“I am very happy to receive all these daily necessities while we are facing serious challenges related to COVID-19. And thank you to the LWD’s staff who came to visit my house to understand about my real hardships and select my family to receive this precious donation”, Roeung said.
The pandemic has hampered his family’s economic situation as their farming products became less marketable. Roeung’s children have a job growing crops for others. They will lose their income this season though because of COVID-19 and flooding. Due to the decreased income, the family ate more unhealthy food and could not afford sanitation kits such as water containers, soap, and clean water to protect them against the virus.
High priority on people with disabilities
People with disabilities are primary beneficiaries of LWD’s programs in any sector, such as health, nutrition, education, agriculture, livelihoods, disaster risk reduction, and good governance. LWD also supports them in increasing their livelihoods: for example by training on animal husbandry and planting, according to the program implementation in each area.
Focus on prevention
Distributions by LWD were organized in six communities in Battambang province in collaboration with the Cambodian Government. The Government also collaborates with NGOs and key stakeholders to raise awareness on hygiene and sanitation issues for the prevention of COVID-19. LWD produced and distributed information, education and communication (IEC) material for schools, commune halls and health centers. The prevention of COVID-19 is always in the focus of any of the organisation’s activities, alerting the participants of any meeting or charity event.
Challenges of a border area
To curb the pandemic in the Battambang province is a challenge, especially in rural areas. The Cambodian local authorities took a lot of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the establishment of quarantine centers along the Thai-Cambodia border to make sure that migrants complete a 14-day quarantine before rejoining their families when they return from work across the border. Local authorities have to record the data of migrants and report them to the government.