In Siem Reap, Cambodia, local people are now reaping what they sowed with the help of new friends. A few months have passed since ASEA volunteers helped establish community gardens in areas where they recently weren’t even possible. Now, the gardens are flourishing and the volunteers are witnessing the impact a simple act can have.
Due to a lack of education and resources, most Cambodians are not equipped to farm anything outside of rice fields until taught important skills about rural farming and given sustainable techniques to maintain the space. They also don’t have the means to buy seeds to grow anything other than rice. It was also crucial that volunteers help villagers learn which environmental and regenerative agricultural practices would help cultivate the plants that would work in Cambodian soil.
Volunteers learned that the growing cycle is different than at home, with hot and wet weather most of the year and then an extremely dry season. Plants such as cauliflower, green onion, and bok choy were chosen for their versatility, nutrition, and inclusion in a variety of different meals within local Cambodian culture. With the help of the ASEA Advancing Life Foundation, things are well on their way.
ASEA Chief Operations Officer Scott Aldred was one of the volunteers able to help others with skills he learned growing up. “The day we spent in the village in Cambodia planting the gardens was an amazing and humbling experience,” said Aldred, “I grew up on a farm in Oregon and we had a very large family garden as well. It was great to have the opportunity to work with the local families and assist them with planting their own gardens that would provide food and income to help them have a better future.”
Aldred wasn’t the only one excited to see the fruits of Advancing Life’s volunteer labor. “It’s nice to see our efforts bearing food,” said Earleen Hayes, an expeditioner from the trip. Other volunteers expressed their emotions after seeing the results posted on the Foundation’s social media pages. “This totally blesses my heart,” said Mary Margaret Donoho, “I’m so grateful. What a blessing for these villagers to have homegrown food and clean water.” Another associate, Colleen M Peterson, was inspired by the results, saying, “That is awesome! I can’t love it enough! it is great to know that they will have vegetables to eat”.
In addition to supporting the flourishing gardens, ASEA associates and executives each donated the full amount to install a freshwater well. Advancing Life has now sponsored over 70 wells, with more being finished by the day. The impact of these water wells on each family is immeasurable, as it keeps them healthy, safe, and thriving.