One of the chief goals of CHE is to help people move from dependence on outside resources, to understand their own potential and give them the tools they need to articulate their own needs and goals and to develop a plan to move forward. I would like to share an excerpt from this months’ health initiative report in Cambodia that demonstrates how this works. Road access to villages is essential for villagers to have access to outside services, work, schools, and markets and is often viewed as the responsibility of others such as government or ngos and often does not happen.
These three villages are not yet part of a formal CHE project but have participated in a few CHE lessons facilitated by our TWR staff. They each were able to identify the need for a road as a key issue and to come up with a strategy to meet their own need.
In Prey Khmeng village outsiders had previuosly built a road wwithout full knowledge of the area and when the rainy season came, it was washed away and no one ever came repair it. The villager leadership developed a plan to gather the money together to repair it and lift it above the flood levels and now use it happily. It brings a sense of ownership to them and pride in their work.
This a road in Beung Knar village which used to have many big holes and it was terrible to get into this village. Now it is so nice to travel here because those holes were filled and people there travel joyfully. There was no help from the government, but the people there were able to save the money and fix their own road and now know how to keep it under repair so their village will no longer be isolated.
In Knart, the villagers collected some of there own money to repair the road but also learned that they could access money that they were entitled to through a government assistance program. It is amazing to see that they have started to identify their needs and take ownership for repairing and taking care of their own community.
As people are dependent on outside help, over time they begin to see themselves as incapable and somehow deficient and helpless, leading to all sorts of problems including illness, alcohol abuse and violence. Building and maintaining a road in your own village may not seem like a big thing to us but to these people it is a first step in regaining their self respect, some joy in their own accomplishments and a hope for the future.