Sao Sary Foundation

Sao Sary Foundation

Kampong Speu, Cambodia. June 16th - 18th, 2010
SSF (Sao Sary Foundation)'s mission is to "to identify at risk children and provide sustainable assistance to both the children and their families"

We do some workshops with the children and support three poor families buying them cows for sustainable income generation.

NameSao Sary Foundation, Kampong Speu, Cambodia
Aim "to identify at risk children and provide sustainable assistance to both the children and their families"
Sincefounded in 2006
Staff7, plus volunteers
People reachedSSF currently works with five villages in Kampong Speu

SSF in Cambodia
#181, Peanicha Kam village, Rokha Thom commune,
Chbar Morn city, Kampong Speu province
Mobile: (855) 12 471 106 / Phone/Fax: (855) 25 98 7196
E-mail: info@ssfcambodia.orgSkype:

Donation600 USD supporting four rural families with cattle as a sustainable source of income

When we arrive at the bus stop along the main highway from Phnom Phen to Sihanoukville, in the town of ..., capital of Kampong Speu, our expectations aren't that high. The dust of our bus has cleared and we manage to call Shannon with a borrowed phone. A few minutes later she appears on a bicycle and takes us to the foundation that is only ten minutes away.

We are introduced to the program straight away by the friendly and competent staff. On our first afternoon, we entertain the children for about two hours with yoga, aerobics, various games and pantomime. As for the pantomime game: The virtual balloon turned out to be a very nice toy, until we introduced the imaginative needle and had the kids running around.

The next day we did paper maché and drawing with them to keep the kids - and us - busy in a nice way. In the afternoon, the porch was decorated with lovely drawings and colorful paper maché monsters sat on the stairs to dry.

We talk to the fabulous director of SSF, Vichetr Uon. SSF has made a name with their broad approach to education and poverty relief. Originally an educational foundation, SSF reaches out to the poorest families in Kampong Speu, providing them with sustainable income programs and getting them out of poverty.

The problems they face are related to poverty and desperate attempts to escape it. There are the loans harks lending them money almost unconditionally, but demanding ridiculous interest rates, sometimes up to 300%. Some families have lost everything because they were lured into lending money years ago and still have to pay their entire proceeds to the loansharks. A related problem is human trafficking. Young women are vulnerable because they sometimes see no other way than escaping into the world of prostitution, ending up in Phnom Phen's brothels or beyond.

Our more serious NGO work here is supporting three to four families with sustainable income generation: we donate cows to them. Vichetr takes us to one of the five villages where SSF is active, and shows us the residence of several impoverished families. In most cases, they have fallen prey to loan sharks and forced to spend most of their budget on ridiculous interest rates. When SSF supports them with livestock, they sign a contract that says they can't sell the cow to pay their scrupulous creditors. Instead, they are supervised when necessary and will use the cow to work on the land, generating their own income and eventually leaving the spiral of poverty. There are several examples of families that have already been lifted from poverty, and we find the concept really convincing.

During an art workshop at SSF

On our tour to the village, we also visit some other projects that SSF is doing. We take a look at the rice bank, a simple yet effective way to provide food safety to the community."Wells of opportunity"[] provides villagers with big water jars, proper sanitation, reservoirs for agriculture, and installs several hand pumps at strategic spots in the village. There is a "demo family" we visit, that is spearheading some of the concepts SSF introduces. They are growing morning glory and eggplant on a small plot, using an innovative irrigation concept to optimize the harvest.

Looking at water containers in a village

There are a number of volunteers working at SSF. We recommend Shannon's blog:

Also, the program coordinator on the ground, Pholla Kang, keeps an excellent online diary of SSFs activities.:

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