Food & Wellness
PLF has three major clean water actions in place in rural schools. After digging the wells, we found the water to be contaminated with E-Coli in all three cases, even as much as 20 meters deep, a common occurrence in Cambodia. Obviously, drinking contaminated water only leads to more health issues, so the water must be purified. Fortunately, this is a relatively simple process; the water must be brought up (via apump) to a holding tank and then it is gravity fed into ceramic filters which removes the E-Coli and any other random organic contaminants such as viruses, bacteria, cyctoplasts or sediment. The water is then released into a drinking tank.
Each year we need to replace all the filters and put new drinking valves on the system and then we’re able to supply clean drinking water to hundreds of children and their teachers. Indeed parents also come to school to haul home clean water and bathe infants.
As you can imagine, the effects of access to clean water are astounding. People are healthier and regular attendance at school becomes possible.
Currently three of our rural schools, Knar, Koh Ker, and Romchek receive monthly food rations from the World Food Program. These rations consist of rice, oil, salt and canned fish. While the food allocated through this program is a start at establishing a nutritional standard of health and well-being for our students, the ration is a “starvation ration” not a “nutrition ration.” What this means, in effect, is that children and youth are not receiving enough meat and vegetables to keep them well or establish a strong and healthy base for their growing bodies. Most of the children at these two schools are malnourished and do not have enough food at home and thus spend a great deal of their time foraging for food on their own or working in exchange for sufficient food for the day, rather than going to school. As a result, when they are at school, they have serious attention and energy deficits which impede their learning. The provision of a substantial and nutritious breakfast is key to attendance and success at school. Simply put, hungry kids cannot learn.
Through this project, we provide additional meat and vegetables to these three schools.
The commitment to a provision of meat and vegetables translates immediately into improved wellness, with less medicine expense, fewer trips to the hospital, etc and attendance at school skyrockets. The malnutrition in these more remote areas is particularly dire for these children and before the breakfast program, running the school was virtually impossible.
Wellness: School Nurses, First Aid, Personal Hygiene
PLF pays for a school nurse at each of our schools. These nurses have been trained by nurses and doctors volunteering with the PLF. They are provided with various medical supplies for basic first aid and are the first line of defense against infections, viruses, etc. We must keep a good stock of first aid supplies, ranging from bandages, eye drops, gentian violet and paracetamol to soap, brushes, toothbrushes and toothpaste in order to keep students clean and healthy. Several volunteers have performed health screenings on students as well as went to schools to teach hygiene and basic first aid for cuts and scrapes. When the school nurse finds students with more serious ailments, PLF needs the funds to take these students to the Children’s Hospital for treatment and followup. Another vital part of the wellness program is bi-annual de-worming.
Because of the implementation of these basic wellness programs, there has been a major decrease in infections from minor cuts and bruises. PLF students come to school cleaner and with a basic knowledge of how to keep themselves healthy.