Cambodian Flag by Levone


									Outline of DWC Student Project to Cambodia
Introduction to Developing World Connections
Developing World Connections (DWC) is founded on the belief that being of service to others is one of the most rewarding yet undervalued aspects of a full and satisfying life. We believe that each of us is capable of making contributions to the lives of others, and collectively, our contributions substantially make our world a better place to live. We believe wholeheartedly that we must respect our host country’s culture and environment, that we have great learning opportunities through people of all nations, and that while we travel we are guests who must honor the goodwill extended during our visit. It is not our purpose to change the culture of our host country, but to embrace and better understand the differences that give equal value to each society. We believe the footprint we leave behind should be gentle, the friendships great, and the memories and understandings we bring home should change our lives forever. Such service-oriented projects must be of benefit to all; the participant through satisfying volunteer service and attaining new global understandings; the project recipients through their own new understanding of different cultures and through the benefit of a completed project; the host country by improvement to their

economy; and Developing World Connections by their ability to continue international volunteer experiences and cultural exposure. DWC currently operates projects in Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Thailand. 2007 will be the inaugural year for DWC’s student placements in Swaziland and Cambodia.

Introduction to Cambodia
Brief History Most Cambodians consider themselves to be Khmers, descendants of the Angkor Empire that extended over much of Southeast Asia and reached its zenith between the 10th and 13th centuries. Attacks by the Thai and Cham (from present-day Vietnam) weakened the empire ushering in a long period of decline. The king placed the country under French protection in 1863. Cambodia became part of French Indochina in 1887. Following Japanese occupation in World War II, Cambodia gained full independence from France in 1953. In April 1975, after a five-year struggle, Communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh and evacuated all cities and towns. At least 1.5 million Cambodians died from execution, forced hardships, or starvation during the Khmer Rouge regime under POL POT. A December 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge into the countryside, began a 10-year Vietnamese occupation, and touched off almost 13 years of civil war. The 1991 Paris Peace Accords mandated democratic elections and a ceasefire, which was not fully respected by the Khmer Rouge. UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy under a coalition government. Factional fighting in 1997 ended the first coalition government, but a second round of national elections in 1998 led to the formation of another coalition government and renewed political stability. The remaining elements of the Khmer Rouge surrendered in early 1999. Some of the remaining Khmer Rouge leaders are awaiting trial by an UN-sponsored tribunal for crimes against humanity. Elections in July 2003 were relatively peaceful, but

it took one year of negotiations between contending political parties before a coalition government was formed

Poverty, Hunger & Disease in Cambodia
After just recently emerging from thirty years of brutal warfare, Cambodia remains one of the poorest countries in the world. While poverty has fallen significantly since its extreme levels in 1993, the vast majority of the population still lives on less than two US dollars a day and has no access to clean water, adequate shelter, sanitation facilities or electricity. Malnutrition is endemic and thousands of children die every year from easily preventable diseases. Infant, child, and maternal mortality rates are among the highest in Asia. Low spending on health and education perpetuates poverty, as children of poor families are forced to drop out of school – making it harder for them to access opportunities as adults – and under-funded public healthcare results in high household spending on poor quality care.1 The gap between the rich and the poor and rural and urban areas is increasing rapidly. Economic growth has been high, at 7.1% annually, but this growth has been highly concentrated in urban areas and narrowly based on a few sectors, meaning that it has not translated significantly into poverty alleviation. Agriculture remains the backbone of the Cambodian economy, with 71% of the labor force earning a living from agriculture. Yet, agricultural growth is only 3.4% per year and rice yields are the lowest in the region. 2 Efforts to reduce rural poverty have been frustrated by rising landlessness. For the rural poor, who make up 90% of those who survive on less than one US dollar a day in Cambodia, land is their single most important asset. Yet, according to a recent Oxfam GB study, landlessness is estimated to have reached 22% of the rural population and has been rising at alarming levels for the past five years. Moreover, 80% of the population occupies land without any legal

Cambodian Flag

Tim Conway, “Poverty Assessment 2006, Summary of Findings,” Presentation at Cambodia: Halving Poverty by 2015? Poverty Assessment 2006 launch conference, Hotel Intercontinental, Phnom Penh, 16 February 2006. 2 Ibid.

documentation proving ownership - a result of mismanaged land policy since the market reforms of the late 1980s and massive high-level corruption, combined with a lack of public awareness about the land law. This absence of secure land tenure is a significant impediment to agricultural growth and poverty reduction, and it also makes the vast majority of the population extremely vulnerable to rampant land-grabbing. While extreme poverty is a serious problem across the Cambodian countryside, the situation is especially dire for women. Cambodian women face a daily struggle against poverty and deprivation. More than 65% of Cambodian women are farmers, and women head more than 25% of Cambodian households. Women household heads are more likely to work in agriculture than male household heads, and women are more likely to be landless or have significantly smaller plots of land. The nutritional status of women and children in Cambodia – ranked as the worst in Southeast Asia – attests to the severity of the economic strain faced by rural women.3 When the rural poor are unable to generate enough income to support their lives, or they lose their land due to land-grabbing by the powerful or because of spiraling debt brought on through illness and the high cost of health care, they migrate to urban areas in search of opportunities. Yet, there are few opportunities for these people in the cities. Rural migrants are thus transformed into squatters and slum dwellers, garbage pickers, beggars Fresh Water Well and sex workers. Rather than opportunities, they are faced with deplorable living and working conditions, violence and human rights abuses by municipal authorities that would prefer to sweep them out of their city than provide them with any social services.

The DWC Project in Cambodia


“Voices from the Field: Women’s Access to Land and Other Natural Resources in Cambodia,” a publication of the Women’s Resource Access Program.

The year 2007 will be the first year of the DWC Student Volunteer Cambodia project. DWC has coordinated with Bridges across Borders, our Cambodia host organization, to create a successful volunteer program. Many development projects are conceptualized and planned in offices and boardrooms far from the project location where the project will take place, often without any input from the actual stakeholders. Not this project. This project was envisioned and planned by the stakeholders themselves during two planning workshops in the center of their community. Our student volunteers will be living and working alongside people of the Chamcar Bei village, just outside the seaside township of Kep. The project goals are based entirely on the consensus that came out of village workshops, with the participation of over 30 community members, village and commune leaders and local health and education officials. It represents their vision, goal, objectives, and desired activities and results. This community development project has three important features. The project is time-bound, with the intention to achieve the expected results and complete the project within five years, thus empowering the community to take charge of their own future and become more self-reliant. The project is integrated, with activities aimed at realizing outputs and objectives related to improving family income and food security, health, education, and sustainability. This is based on the understanding that the problems caused by poverty are integrated and cyclical, so the interventions aimed at breaking the cycle should be integrated as well. Finally, the project is community-based, with community task forces steering activities in the preliminary stage of the project, and a unified, democratic and gender-balanced community organization taking the lead in the planning and implementation of activities as the project develops. This project will impact, at a minimum, the 2648 residents of Chamcar Bei, although it * Chamcar Bei village health centre is expected that the agricultural training and irrigation programs will reach farmers in neighboring villages and the entire Pong Teuk commune and its 8454 residents will benefit from the improved health services that will result from the project at the Pong Teuk Health Center. Moreover, the long-term goal of the project is to create an organizing model in Chamcar Bei that will spread to

nearby villages, empowering more communities. The project will cost $80,000 USD in the first year and a total of $307,747 USD over three years. Student volunteers will make up a significant portion of the project strategy, contributing as much as $6000 per group to the project capital. Students will also be participating in a range of project activities, including:       Helping to create a cooperative organic farm Tree planting on degraded slopes Volunteer at the Cultural Learning Center Creating new fresh water wells Digging community fish ponds Helping to upgrade the community health centre and other community facilities.

Dates and Duration of the Student Projects
Students will depart for Cambodia early in October of 2007. An orientation will take place in the weeks before departure, in order to prepare the participants for what they will encounter and experience while in Thailand and Cambodia. The project itself will last for a total duration of 5 weeks. This includes a week-long cultural tour at the end of the program, in which the participants will travel around Cambodia before returning to Canada. Students will spend a few nights in Bangkok before heading by road to the Thai border town of Trat. The next day students will cross the border and head by boat to Sihanoukville (Kompong Som). From there, students will head north to the capital Phnom Penh, where we will meet with our host organization and visit some of the country best tourist sights, including the King’s Palace, the Russian market, as well as the infamous Genocide museum and Killing Fields. Participants will then head back south to the work site where they will set up camp. The participants will work five days a week, but will have weekends off

for free time or to participate in an activity, such as a visit to Bokor National Park. At the end of the three weeks at the project site, student will travel to Siem Riep to explore the famous Angkor Wat temple complex.

Project Leader
The leader for the Cambodian project is Sean Mulligan. Sean has a degree from UVic (Geography / Environmental studies) and a diploma in Outdoor Recreation Management from Capilano College. He is the sole proprietor of the Salt Spring Adventure Company and leads kayaking and sightseeing throughout the summer months. Sean retains Advanced Wilderness First Aid training and has worked in Cambodia on two separate occasions. Most recently, Sean visited Cambodia with DWC’s president Wayne McRann to meet with our Bridges across Borders hosts.

Risks are inherent in any activity, whether it be riding a bike or touring the world. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, driving a car may be the most dangerous activity you will ever participate in. Car accidents kill 1.2 million people per year, and injure more than 40 times this number4. However, that does not mean accidents don’t, or won’t, happen. While DWC is taking every precaution to ensure the safety of its volunteers, the students must understand that they must exercise caution and make prudent decisions at all times. For example;    It is not recommended that students explore Phnom Phen at night, unless they do so in a taxi and in the company of others. Female volunteers would be wise to partner up with at least one other volunteer at all times when exploring towns and cities. While students are adults and free to explore sites on their own, they must alert the leader to their plans and make arrangements to meet up with the group. It would be considered wise, and respectful, to dress modestly while in Cambodia. Tank tops and shorts are considered disrespectful, especially in government offices and temples.



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Proper vaccinations are required for the trip. Talk to your doctor or local Travel Clinic to determine which vaccinations you require. Travel medical insurance is required and cancellation insurance is highly recommended.

Additional Information
For more information on Cambodia, visit the following website:
CIA World Factbook -

Lonely Planet Travel:

Developing World Connections:
Official Website:

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