HELP FIGHT COVID-19 AND HUNGER IN CAMBODIA
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit Cambodia hard. In Siem Reap the tourist industry has collapsed. Hotels are closed, restaurants are shuttered and thousands have lost their jobs. There is barely a tuk tuk to be found. Pub Street and the Night Market are closed and dark. Without tourists there is no money. Without money there is no food.
On top of this, an outbreak in February of 2021 has torn through the country. Infections and deaths are rising at a rapid pace, and vaccinations have only recently begun to be distributed across the country. With the new “Delta” variant making its way across the globe, many fear that these vaccinations might not be as effective, and that Cambodia will be dealing with the “COVID Economy” for a lot more time to come.
The Landmine Relief Fund, working with the Rural Schools Village Program is instituting a food distribution program. We began giving away food in late April, 2020. This has grown into a long term program that we have called “The Together Project.” We are coordinating this program with the local communes and the Wats. We will also be driving to villages and giving away rice, noodles, sauces, salt and sugar. So far the LMRF has raised enough to donate and deliver over 250 metric tons of food to those in need. On top of this we have developed a Self-Sustaining Farm system for a more long term solution.
Landmines and UXO in Cambodia
Cambodia is still one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. Cambodians have suffered through decades of conflict, including a civil war, the brutal Khmer Rouge regime and genocide, American bombings, and Vietnamese occupation.
Landmines and unexploded ordnances are left over from the fighting, contaminating land in Cambodia. Dozens of civilians are injured or killed every year by them. Millions of the landmines have now been cleared, but there is still a long way to go; it is estimated Cambodia will not be entirely cleared of landmines for several decades to come.
On top of the landmines that litter Cambodia, people must also worry about unexploded ordnance (UXO) that has been left over by the extensive fighting in the 60s and 70s, and the American bombing campaigns in Cambodia during the Vietnam war. The United States had dropped approximately 110,00 tons of bombs during B-52 raids in Cambodia- estimated to be more bombs than dropped on Japan in the whole of World War Two. It is estimated that around 30% of these bombs dropped never exploded, being left there for decades causing injuries and death to local people.
The Together Project
In March of 2020, the Landmine Relief Fund started working with RSSO to distribute food to those who lost their job and saw their support system collapse- they called this the Together Project. Buying 20 tons of rice, they thought it would last 6 months. By the end of the year, they had distributed over 250 metric tons of food. With each 10 kg bag of rice they also distributed a bag of ‘condiments’, including 10 packs of instant noodles, a bottle of soy and fish sauce, salt, and sugar. Each bag of rice provides 100 servings.
TTP is now moving to establish sustainable, long term, programs so people can help themselves. TTP partnered with the Royal University of Agriculture in Phnom Penh to help develop the program. We hired a degreed, trained agronomist as the Project Manager, and through her, secured a parcel of land in Bakong Commune, Bakong District, near Siem Reap. Now, this lane hold TTP’s Sustainable Farm system that includes a Hydroponic Greenhouse, Net Garden, and Aqua Pond. TTP plans on using this as a Beta farm to be recreated in rural villages around Cambodia. You can read more about what the TTP does and about our Sustainable Farm at our website.
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The Landmine Relief Fund (LMRF) is a U.S. based 501c3 charity that supports the work of Cambodian NGOs. It was established by Bill Morse in 2003 to support the mine-clearing work of Cambodian Self-Help Demining (CSHD), a Cambodian NGO founded by ex-child soldier and CNN hero Aki Ra.
We work to provide Cambodians the opportunity to live safely, without the constant threat of danger from weapons left behind after nearly 35 years of war
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The Landmine Relief Fund raises money for CSHD’s landmine-clearing work. Additionally, we support Aki Ra’s other projects, such as the school at the Cambodia Landmine Museum in Siem Reap, which offers English lessons to local children, and the Rural School Village Program (RSVP), which builds schools in rural villages where CSHD has cleared minefields or where there is no access to education. We have also established The Together Project(TTP), which brings relief to those affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic through food donations, as well as explores Self -Sustaining Farming for more long term solutions.
The LMRF supports work in Cambodia to make it better, safer, and self-sufficient. There is nothing in Cambodia that cannot be done by Cambodians. All the work LMRF does is in conjunction with Cambodian charities and Cambodian NGOs.
In the course of our work, we have built partnerships with many organizations in Cambodia and around the world. Each organization is vital to the work we do in Cambodia; without them we would not be nearly as successful as we have been.