Photojouranlist Dave Snyder Visits CRS Projects in Cambodia

It’s my first time in Cambodia, and I am interested to see more of it. We started out the week down south, visiting beneficiaries who had received small grants to start up or expand agricultural businesses, like selling tree seedlings or digging ponds to hold year-round supplies of wild fish. I’ve seen lots of similar development projects over the years, and I know they work. Poor people in most developing countries know how to make money – they just don’t have access to the startup capital they need to do it. A grant of $50 is all the start-up many people need to begin earning a viable income.

A Cambodian Girl

Photo by dave Snyder for CRS

Mid-week we headed west to visit the Chambok ecotourism site, near the Kirirom National Park, which you can find in most guidebooks. What you may not be able to find is more information about the Chambok site – more than 1,200 hectares of lush forest, and a still fledgling effort by locals to earn their living by preserving the forest – a new concept in much of impoverished Cambodia, where natural resources are often quickly consumed out of necessity. With CRS help, the communities within the Chambok site are working to draw tourists from both inside and outside Cambodia. Through entrance fees, guide services, accommodation and food sales, the community is working to sustain itself, and preserve the environment. It’s amazing how much of an impact even a few tourist dollars can make. Entrance fees are $3 for foreigners – .25 cents for Cambodians – and a night of accommodation in the home of a local, who like all at the site shares in the profits, is another $3. Having seen so much environmental destruction in much of the developing world, where resources are often seen only as quick cash or cooking fuel, it was a delight to see people working hard to save what they do have, and support themselves in the process. We all benefit from such efforts. I’d encourage you to learn more about the Chambok group at www.geocities.com/chambokcbet

Back in Phnom Penh tonight, and heading out Sunday for more projects. Fitting on this night to see fireworks over the city. I don’t know where they are coming from, but it’s nice to be reminded of home.

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