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Growing beyond

This past May, the Gay Lea Foundation awarded S.H.A.R.E. Agriculture Foundation (S.H.A.R.E) a grant to provide field wells for subsistence farmers in Cambodia. The wells not only allow farming families to grow crops but also provide access to safe drinking water.

S.H.A.R.E.provides agricultural education, skills training and health-wellness assistance targeted to the most disadvantaged, isolated communities in the poorest of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), primarily Central America, Cambodia, Bolivia, and Haiti.

In Cambodia, frequent droughts challenge a farmer’s ability to grow crops for food and income. So S.H.A.R.E. worked with the Tabitha Foundation Cambodia to drill 50 field wells to provide safe drinking water and irrigation for 100 subsistence farmer families. Tabitha is a rural development organization focused on helping Cambodians lift themselves out of poverty.

Even though Cambodia has an abundant water table containing clean, potable water, much of the population is too poor to afford the construction of a water well. The environment exacerbates the issue as Cambodians endure annual cycles of flood and drought.

A family in Cambodia stand next to their newly constructed water well.

Before constructing the wells, participating families joined a Tabitha-organized Family Savings Program to save the qualifying $20 contribution for a well, thus establishing their ownership and enabling the families to develop a vision and the confidence to make decisions that will benefit their future.

The $16,000 grant was received in July, and by the end of August, all 50 wells had been drilled and completed. The wells were constructed in fields where crops are grown. Each well now supplies two families with enough irrigation water to grow crops year-round on an average of four hectares of land, along with potable water for daily living. To ensure the project remains productive, Tabitha’s staff also trained families on the wells’ maintenance and upkeep and assisted the farmers with crop management.

The families can now grow three crops a year, up from one, as well as raise animals. In addition, with a potential profit of $2,700 per year from sales of the crops, participating families now have the means to buy uniforms and school supplies so their children can attend school, as well as medicine and health care.

“On behalf of S.H.A.R.E, I would like to thank the Gay Lea Foundation for its generous donation,” says Casey Willemse, S.H.A.R.E. Project Manager. “Constructing wells for communities in Cambodia will have lasting effects beyond clean water. The water wells permit farmers to grow nutritious food year-round, leading to better health outcomes; having a local water source means women and children have more time for school and obtaining additional income. All lead to the elimination of poverty.”



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