Alleviate Poverty with Community Development

During my extensive travels through Southeast Asia I became very sympathetic to the extreme poverty that existed there. Unfortunately, I saw many underprivileged communities that were at a severe disadvantage to the developed world. Indeed, effective community development in these types of impoverished communities will help to alleviate extreme poverty. Additionally, valuable resources will be used most effectively. As a result, I decided to provide funding for some basic community infrastructure.

My Approach to Community Development

To help level the playing field, I volunteered to provide funding for several meaningful community development projects in Cambodia, Laos and also Honduras. As a result, I ended up disbursing 30% of my net worth to fund these projects.

The projects I funded included the construction of new schools, scholarship programs, environmental conservation and also community health care. As a result, thousands of children, families and their communities will benefit for many years to come.

However, the effective implementation of the community development projects would be imperative. Fortunately, I received a timely referral from an trusted associate. As a result, I was put in contact with a Swiss NGO that had been operating in Laos and Cambodia for 10 years. Fortunately, they had several projects that had recently completed the planning stage and were ready for implementation.

Primary School in Prey Chas, Cambodia

Prey Chas, Cambodia is a small rural community located in Battambang Province that depends on fishing as their sole means of subsistence. Additionally, Prey Chas is a floating village located on the shores of a Tonle Sap tributary. Tonle Sap is a large freshwater lake located in west central Cambodia and access to the community is only possible by boat.

Tonle Sap Subsistence Fishing
The subsistence lifestyle is very challenging for communities surrounding Tonle Sap.

Indeed, the local economy and the community are very responsive to the fickle nature of Tonle Sap. Additionally, Cambodia is still in shambles because of the destruction and instability that resulted from the Vietnam War. The immediate challenges facing Cambodia include insufficient funding for community development projects such as schools, healthcare and infrastructure.

I provided much needed funding for a new school building. Additionally, the Governor of Battambang province presented me with the “Economic Medal of Honor” at the school opening ceremony. I was very proud to receive the award on behalf of the Prey Chas Community.

Prey Chas Cambodia Community Development project
All the buildings in Prey Chas, Cambodia must be able to stay above the fluctuating water line of Tonle Sap.
Prey Chas School Opening Ceremony
The class president is preparing to address those attending the opening ceremony.

Primary School in Nong Tae, Laos

The neighboring country of Laos also faces many of the same economic challenges as Cambodia. Fortunately, fully planned projects in Laos were ready for immediate funding. As a result, the project I chose was in Champasak Province through which I had traveled extensively in the past. I funded 50% of the project because a Thai corporation had already committed the other half.

The old Nong Tae Primary school
The previous school was constructed in 1945, it had become unstable and had a dirt floor.
Nong Tae School Community Development Project
The completed Nong Tae community development project was large and consisted of 2 new school buildings.

Indeed, Lao culture is more spiritual than what exists in present day Cambodia. Therefore, the Nong Tae school opening included a “Baci” ceremony, also known as a “sou khuan”. Lao culture has practiced this ritual ceremony for many centuries as a means of repairing or enhancing the spirit. Additionally, although Laos has a Buddhist majority, they have remained loyal to their animist roots.

Baci Ceremony - Nong Tae School Opening Ceremony
A Baci spiritual ceremony was presented to us by the Nong Tae community.

Community Development in Honduras

Community development principles can be implemented in different forms. Therefore, the money I allocated in Honduras would be used to install eco-efficient cooking stoves.

In Honduras, most rural villagers are forced to cook over open fires. As a result, this is very hazardous for their health and it is environmentally unsustainable. Additionally, the cost to install a more efficient wood burning stove in each home is only about $30 USD.

Honduras Eco Stove Program for Community Development

After installation the amount of wood required to operate the stove is reduced by 70%. As a result, this will significantly lower carbon emissions and also relieve the strain on the forest because less trees are needed for fuel.

Furthermore, the efficiency of the stove is also much higher which produces a multitude of additional benefits that fit the community development definition.

Honduras Community Development

Most essentially, the stove includes an efficient chimney which funnels the smoke out of the cooking area. As a result, the health benefits are immense because it will significantly reduce respiratory problems.

Honduras Boy Gathering Wood for stove in

Additional Types of Community Development

I provided supplemental funding for different approaches to community development. These approaches included methods such as basic hygiene instruction and scholarship programs.

As a result, we introduced basic hygiene programs in the local communities. Additionally, scholarship programs enabled students to attend secondary schools that were not available in their localities. These projects were very significant and they were all successfully completed.

Why Sponsor Community Development?

Economic opportunity is abundantly available in the US. As a result, even the most disadvantaged US citizens have become spoiled and lazy. However, there is no greater good achieved by maintaining the statue quo. Indeed, misguided US foreign policy is responsible for much of the struggle still facing developing countries, especially in SE Asia. Additionally, my travels through war torn SE Asia left me awe inspired by the persistence, ingenuity and fortitude of the local communities.

I do not consider what I gave away to be charity. Indeed, I have simply helped to fill the void which is not of their making. On the other hand, “charity” is what I used to give to the US government. Unfortunately, the US government then uses the money to bail out profligate US consumers.

Two Additional School Projects

Tuol Kruos, Cambodia School Project
Ka Touat, Laos School Project