Partnering with the Halo Trust Cambodia in Battambang province
Located 294km west of Cambodia is Battambang town, an area known for its fertile soil, crucial for the local population who rely heavily on farming to survive. It was also one of the last strongholds of the Khmer Rouge. The fighting in this area between Vietnamese forces, Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian Royal Armed Forces began in 1979, forcing communities to leave their homes. Infrastructure within the region was destroyed along with the majority of homes, as well as a lot of livestock. The province was strategically located, leading to the heavy use of landmines to provide defence against any possible attack. When the conflict ended the villagers slowly returned to the area, but people were forced to live amongst a huge number of landmines and unexploded ordnance.
During the Covid-19 pandemic the SBCF has been supporting the HALO Trust, Cambodia to deliver their mine risk education programme (MRE) . MRE teams met with a villager who is currently living remotely in the landmine contaminated area of Peam village in Battambang province. Pov, 55 years old, recalled
“I am originally from Battambang (city) and moved to Peam village in Battambang province in 1983. I moved here is to follow my husband who worked for a wealthy family of landowners. Ten years after moving with my husband we were happily married with three children. But this happiness did not stay long with us as my husband was killed by a landmine whilst ploughing land for one of the villagers.”
With her youngest child just four months old, Pov struggled to cope and was reliant on support from the family her husband worked for to make ends meet. Pov was fortunate that villagers rallied to support her and her three children by helping to build a house for the young family of four, but she still struggled to put food on the table for her family. Pov often encountered mines and explosive remnants of war close to her new home and was terrified of mines after what happened to her husband. I am so worried about the threat of COVID-19. Like many families across Cambodia, my family cannot afford to either not work or to have to self-isolate if the virus were to take a hold in Battambang province.”
The price of face masks rose dramatically between March and April 2020 when the number of confirmed cases rose in Cambodia. Face masks were either out of stock or unaffordable for many families.
“I worried that Cambodia’s healthcare system would be overwhelmed and that families would not be able to protect themselves with affordable protective equipment if a second wave arrived in Cambodia.” Pov Add.
Thanks to the support of The Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation, Pov and her family are extremely grateful to have received hygiene kits to help protect themselves from COVID-19. Pov and her family were previously using scarves as face masks and were using washing powder to clean their hands and surfaces.
Pov says “I would not have been able to afford to buy the face masks, soap and bleach myself, and I feels less anxious about COVID-19 arriving in Battambang province than I did before HALO teams distributed the hygiene kits, generously provided by The SBC Foundation. Now me and my family will have greater confidence in going about everyday life without contracting or spreading COVID-19. Thank you so much for your care and love Cambodian people and preventing us from the spread”
In 2020, 1,841 people (830 women, 464 men, 298 boys and 259 girls) directly benefited and increased knowledge and awareness of the dangers posed by mines and explosive remnants of war.