Our family has lived in this place for over 20 years. My husband and I moved here when our oldest daughter Kol Rany was three years old. Back then, we survived on what we could grow.
Now, 20 years later, my husband works part-time in the local government’s environment office. A lot has changed in the 20 years we have lived here.
For the first few years we had an open well that we could draw water from with a rope and bucket. The water was always dirty and made us sick.
Eventually, we were able to pay for a borehole well, but even with a better well the water was still not safe to drink. We spent a lot of money for the new well and we were still sick often.
Back then, we used a two-step process to make our water drinkable. First, we would let the water rest in a sediment jar to get as much dirt out of the water as possible. Then, I would boil the water for 15 minutes.
To boil the water, I would have to gather firewood to burn. Each day it was my responsibility to boil the water so my husband could have clean water to drink.
Often my children and I would drink water straight from the well because we didn’t have enough firewood to boil water for all of us.
When we were drinking unboiled water straight from the well we would get skin rashes, and the children always had diarrhea. I was often sick as well. I didn’t have very much energy and struggled to do my housework and take care of my children.
We were fortunate to be able to scavenge for things to burn, because back then we did not have any income. We lived on the rice and vegetables we could grow, the fish we could catch, and the eggs our few chickens produced.
Nine years ago Clear Cambodia started working in our village to provide BioSand filters for families and build latrines in the community. To get the filter we needed to invest $5. The filter cost $60 but Clear Cambodia would cover the rest.
My husband sold some of the rice we had grown and we invested in the BioSand filter. We felt we really could not afford the $5 but it was also expensive to be sick all the time.
Since we invested in the BioSand filter, our lives have changed so much. My kids don’t get sick as often and don’t miss school. My husband and I have a lot more energy and can work more in the field.
Before we had clean water we often had to spend the little bit of money we could save on medicine for us or our children. Once we got the water filter, we were finally able to start saving money and improving our family situation.
The BioSand filter removes bacteria like e-coli and parasites that make us sick. It also removes the fertilizers and pesticides that seep into the groundwater and cause skin rashes.
We use the water for everything. We drink it, we wash our hands with it, we wash our vegetables with it, and we bathe with it. We also learned about hygiene from the classes taught by Clear Cambodia in our village. After hearing about the benefit of latrines in class, we saved and built a small latrine for our family.
My younger daughter Kol Puti is in the 7th grade at the district school. She is responsible for washing the vegetables we grow in our garden before we take them to the market.
Because she is healthy and able to attend school regularly, in 6 years she will be able to attend university. She wants to study to be a teacher. Now, she is taking extra classes after school to learn English.
My oldest daughter Kol Rany, has moved to Phnom Penh for work. I care for her twin sons Chan Soklap and Chan Cheat.
With the money we have been able to save, we recently paid to have 2 fish ponds dug on our property so we can grow fish to sell at the market. We used the extra dirt to continue expanding our gardens.
With more people in the family and a larger garden we decided to invest in a second BioSand filter.
My husband says “It is amazing the difference good health has made in our lives.”