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Suorsadai!

I'm Julie D. as Jon likes to call me every now and then! This is my first post so let me introduce myself in few words...
I joined The lake Clinic 3 weeks ago and I'm so thrilled to be a part it for 4 months.
Back in France, I'm studying International Humanitarian Action and Jon accepted me as an intern. I'm his administrative assistant.


By Julie Debuire

On friday, the 16th of march, we finally went to Moat Klas village to deliver the much anticipated bio-sand water filters produced by Water For Cambodia.

Water filters awaiting transport

After 2 hours and half of travel by boat we arrived. The meeting point was the chief's house. Not even 5 minutes after we left the boat, all the families were there; the beneficiaries of the brand new water filters.
Water filters and 20 liter jars for distribution to 20 families

Sitting on the floor, they've spent the next hour listening to the instructions and recommendations given by Sakhem and the team of Water for Cambodia.



They were listening very carefully, focused, they did not miss a single word.


Sometimes you don't need to understand the language, you can read in between the lines, you can read on the face of the people, a smile, a laugh, a look. Those people were happy. They really were.

I was happy too. We brought an amazing device, which will change their lives. We brought a simple device made with PVC, gravels and sand.


Those people are used to drink the water from the lake.
Some of them take the time to boiled it, some others just don't. No time for that. Some of them had to buy drinking water because of health problems but it's quite expensive and they need to save their money.
So yes, the bio-sand water filters will change their life. They know that.


After the meeting, all the beneficiaries had to sign the contract with Water for Cambodia.


If they don't use the water filter properly, WFC will take it back. They need to understand that they have to take care of it. Sometimes, when you give something for free, the people don't have the feeling that it is their own belonging. That it is precious. That's why every one had to pay a contribution of 7 dollars. That mean they bought it. They saved their money for that. So they will take real care of it.
(The actual cost of one Bio-Sand water filter is over 150 USD for materials, fabrication, transportation, staff... A big thank you to our partner and their donors, IMPACT UK, without whom this delivery won't have been possible.)

Then, you should have seen the scene... The meeting was over and comes the time to take their property and bring it back home...


Like bees on flowers, they all came to choose their water filter. Trying it, removing the cap and the diffuser plate to see if everything inside was correct...



And smoothly, get back on their boat with the precious new artefact. Before leaving the chief's home the last thing they needed was to get gravels and sand. The essentials elements to make the filter works. To turn dirty water into clear water. Into drinkable water. The gravels and sand that will remove 98% of the bacteria, parasites and other elements as iron, zinc etc.

Each household is provided with a prewashed allotment of gravel and sand

The next main step was to install the water filter in every house. Water for Cambodia's team has been very productive and efficient! While they installed the filter they explained everything all over again to make sure it was understood.


That's pretty much how we spent the day at Moat Klas.

Now, let me tell you about some beneficiaries.

The first family I've met lives in a very small house, made with bamboo.



7 persons live there. The parents and their 5 children. The oldest one is 14 years old and the youngest one is 20 months old.



I've met three of them, the other two were at school.
When we were talking she was breastfeeding her son while the other one was sleeping on the floor.


The 14 years old girl was listening and watching very seriously what was going on with the filter. She was really paying attention to the installation.

Water For Cambodia's staff is disinfecting parts of the BSF

The mother says that water filters are really good because they can help them to clean the water. Before that, they used to drink directly the water from the lake, took it, waited for a little while and drank it. They had no time to boil the water although they knew it wasn't good... She says they're too busy for that so...
Their children got sick. Diarrhea. One of their children had diarrhea just few days ago. She really thinks the water filter will help them to remain healthy, actually she says it will change their lives.
She also thinks that water filters are easy to use, she can understand and she can do it by herself. The good thing about those new water filters is that they're not as heavy as the cement water filter and so they can have one of them otherwise it would have been too heavy for their house. This one is just perfect.

You might wonder how a day in this woman's life looks like.
Around 3 or 4pm she goes out on the lake to install the nets to catch fishes. The day after, early morning, she goes back to bring the fish back to her home. There she cuts off the heads and makes smoked fish...it's already time to go back on the lake.
She does every day the same thing, this is her work.

After our visit to this family, we went to meet another one.
The owner, a 41 years old father of 4 kids (19 to 4 years old), welcomes us. At this time he didn't felt so well so he used traditional medicine to help him getting better.
It's quite surprising when you do not know a thing about this kind of practical.


My first thought was "what is he doing with all those pot of yoghurt on his back??", then I figured out that it might be a traditional way to cure something. I was right.
He uses a small flaming torch that goes inside the pot in order to expelled the air and he puts the pot on his skin.
He has to wait around 20 minutes and then he can remove all the pots. He did it several times on his back, his torso and his legs. Quite impressive watching him doing that!

During this time, we started to talk about the water filters.


The answer is almost the same. He thinks it's very good to help them to remain healthy and to not waste money because without the water filters, he needs to buy clear water which has a cost.. In his family, he is the only one who drinks boiled water, other members use directly the water from the lake to drink, to clean, to cook, to do everything they have to do... This man was really sick, stomachache, that the reason why he only uses boiled water.
So he knows that the water filter will change their life in many different ways.



This family lives in Moat Klas since 16 years and if you ask him if he finds his life on the lake difficult he will answer you an honest "no". He is accustomed to his life and he says "if the people like us go to the city, we will find it difficult". This is the way of life...

The last person I've interviewed was a young woman, 19 years old. She lives with her parents. She lives in Moat Klas since 7 years, her entire family lives here, in the village but in different homes.


She went to school until grade 3 but she really knows how to talk and she's very smart.
Five minutes after we arrived in her house, many kids have joined us.


First, they were a little bit shy, one of them was trying to hide behind one other, the other one was trying to get my attention and as soon as he had it, he also tried to hide.


They were quiet and interested in what was going on.

Water For Cambodia's staff is explaining the use of the jar

At the end, all of them became less shy and they were laughing, jumped into the water, very proudly.


They had a lot of fun! I would have loved to join them and swim with them but the lake...

At this point you realize how difficult it is to change habits and what appears to be so natural: swimming in the same water you wash your clothes, you defecate or urinate. At this point you realize how important it is to educate them to basics healthcare, to hygiene...
At this point you realize how important and precious is the work TLC does.


Let's go back to the filters.

For this young lady, it is also very important for her because it will help her and the family to have good health. She wants to thank TLC, the NGO's and all the people who support water filters.
Before, they also used the water directly from the lake, without boiling it that's why she is very happy about the new water filter. NGO's, through water filters, help them to protect their health.
She says that it will change her life, when they drank the water from the lake, they spent lot of money in treatment. They didn't go to hospital but to someone without real medicine skills. And sometimes he didn't even know anything about the diseases...
She has been waiting for the bio-sand water filter since 8 months. The family had an other one, the on made with concrete but it was too heavy so her brother took it for his own house.

When we've left the village, I had the feeling, that this day was a special one.



03/20/2012