Working for Clean Water

August 1, 2012 • Cambodia

By Sok Chanthy, field officer for the Water for Kids project in Cambodia

Phearom was at a loss for how to provide for his family. The 36-year-old man had spent years living in Thailand apart from his wife and children because he couldn’t find a good job near his home in Cambodia.

He worked as a construction worker and earned 150 baht, the equivalent of $5 a day. Phearom lived in fear of the police, who often searched for people who did not have a passport or visa. Some days he ran and took refuge in the forest, sleeping on the ground or hiding in concrete rings.

This lifestyle took an emotional, physical, and mental toll. He missed his home country and family, so Phearom finally returned to Cambodia.

However, it was still hard for him to find a job because of his lack of education. Phearom wanted to be a construction worker, but the village did not have many things to build. Sometimes he would go to work in the fields where he would earn a little over $3. But this was only on days when the farmers needed extra workers.

As he was walking through his village one day, he met Samaritan’s Purse staff and asked if they had any work for him.

“What do you want to do?” he was asked.

Phearom said he had experience in building. Samaritan’s Purse needed a worker to build rainwater tanks for our clean water programs, so they called him in for training.

Phearom proved to be a skilled worker. He has worked with Samaritan’s Purse for four years, and currently manages a staff of 15! He has gained experience building large rainwater tanks, latrines, hand-washing stations, and pond pumps. Much of his work is with the Water for Kids project, which has provided clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities at 53 primary schools where more than 14,500 students attend.

Phearom is very excited to work with SP because he can help his family and it has also enabled him to reach out and to help his neighbors find jobs so that they don’t have to find work in Thailand.

Phearom recently hired a worker named Suon Kuen who is missing one leg and was desperately looking for work, just like Phearom was years ago. This greatly helped Suon support his family and provide an education for his children.

Most of all, Phearom said he is happy because through his work he can help the children at the schools.

“Thank you God,” Phearom said, “And thank you to the Samaritan’s Purse staff for helping us to work with you! God bless you all.”