When most of us think of the word WASH, we think of the act of washing, of making things clean by using water and soap to remove dirt.

When the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) uses the term WASH, we are speaking of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene. WASH is a serious public health concern in countries all over the world. Lack of clean water and proper sanitation, as well as the neglect of hygiene, causes preventable illness and even death. Without access to WASH, families can remain locked in poverty.

In Cambodia, ADRA has been working for several years to bring the benefits of WASH to communities living in hard-to-reach areas.

The name Siem Reap conjures visions of the awe-inspiring temple complex of Angor Wat, Buddhist monks in brilliant orange robes, and the bustling night market.

Srib and her family, however, live far from the tourist-filled city in a rural farming village. Srib has never been to school. Her husband has a Grade 4 education. Supporting their six children with no income was a struggle.

When ADRA began the project in her village, Srib saw an opportunity to create a better life for her family, and she eagerly joined the group. She learned how to raise chickens and how to cultivate pumpkins, winter melons, cucumbers, bananas, eggplant, mangoes, and chilies. The food she grows is just enough to feed her family.

Chickens and gardens need water, so ADRA ensured that a well was installed at Srib’s home. Srib no longer had to buy water or use a neighbour’s well. Her well provided enough water for all of Srib’s other household needs, such as cooking, washing, and cleaning. ADRA also helped to provide a latrine, as a family could not afford one on their own and were using open fields as their toilet. Srib’s family is now happier and healthier.

At ADRA we want to maximize our impact on the communities we work with, so we source our project materials from local suppliers whenever possible.

Sarin and his wife, Sophoan, are the proud owners of a latrine and well-making business that also supplies water filters. They opened their business over six years ago. When they opened the business, not everyone in the communities understood the importance of WASH, but ADRA’s awareness-raising sessions have changed the villagers’ mindset. Sarin says that the ADRA project has increased their business by 70 to 80 percent. They have hired another three workers and now have six full-time staff. They install the wells and latrines from parts that are manufactured at their warehouse. Sarin enjoys visiting with his customers because everyone is happy when he arrives to install a well or a latrine. Although Sarin and Sophoan are not direct beneficiaries of the project, as partners their lives, too, have changed for the better.

Your generous support of ADRA’s work is making a real difference to real families in real communities in Cambodia and around the world.