Sunday, May 23, 2010

Touch a Life Food Programme in Siem Reap

I took these photos on April 6, when I went with my friend Mavis on one of her many trips to feed poor people in Mondul 3 district, a very poor area in Siem Reap. Tourists are often surprised to learn that Siem Reap is one of the poorest provinces in the country. Step out of Siem Reap town, barely 30 mins away on a motorbike, and you will see the crushing poverty. (In 2008, I wrote about New Hope, an NGO operating in Mondul 3).  

Mavis (in the middle) is a Singaporean mother of two who has lived in Malacca, the former Portugese colonial town in Malaysia, for two decades. She started a food programme in Malacca and brought the programme to Siem Reap about 2 years ago, which was when we first met. 

The beauty on the back of the motorbike is Jesseca Liu, a popular Malaysian-born, Singapore-based, actress. Jesseca had come for a visit with her family but got stuck without a flight out (long story). It was funny, we took her for a massage in Siem Reap and all the massage girls insisted on taking a photo with Jesseca cos they recognised her as Ruan Mian Mian, the Vietnamese bride in a Singapore drama series called "Portrait of Home" (同心圆). The show was dubbed in Khmer and shown on TV. Everywhere we went Khmers would gawk and say she is sa'at. They especially loved her fair skin. Having met her I can confirm she really is beautiful, inside and out.

This is one of my heroes, Bel, a Cambodian man who lost his right leg when he stepped on a landmine when he was nine. Bel helps Mavis by delivering the food she cooks to the villagers. I was so touched seeing him ride his moto holding on to his crutch with the packets of food strapped to the back of the bike. 
Bel in front, Mavis and Jess on second bike. I'm behind them on another moto, balancing sitting side saddle and taking these photos. Yes, I am almost local!
The first stop. You can see why. A malnourished girl with her mom who has 3 other children. Boxes of food (vegetarian, Mavis believes it is best) for the whole family.
Food for the families identified as very poor
Here you can see Bel, on his crutch, feeding the children. I am always touched when I see these photos. Really, to the point of tears. Here is a man whose life must have been hard. He told me he remembers bleeding, bleeding all over the place and the trip to the hospital took over a day and when he arrived, he was stinking from sweat and blood and no wonder the nurses weren't kind. 
And look at Bel now. Only in his twenties and a proud man helping his fellow Khmers. I know I can be cynical and doubt the good foreigners like me are doing for this country because Khmers can be so manipulative and corrupt. But people like Bel put me to shame. He still has a hard life but despite this he tries to help other disabled people whom he takes in and feeds. I want to do more for people like Bel. They really do deserve better.
Wee happy children with wee packets of crackers.
Where the children live. Leaf roof, zinc and cardboard walls. Where is the toilet I hear you ask. There is none. They do everything in the bushes. No running water either. Water is from common wells some distance away.
Nothing is wasted. Leftover rice is dried in the sun and fed to the animals. Mavis will be back Tues and I'll post more photos of our next trip. Read more about Bel and Mavis here at If you would like to donate to help Mavis please go to Touch A Life. If you would like the money to go to Bel and his KILT (Khmer Independent Life Team), please let Mavis know. 


Diana Saw said...

Christina Glück commented on your Note "Touch a Life Food Programme in Siem Reap":

"wow, diana! i can't find the right words. the poverty is unbelievabel and we did not notice anything when we were there as tourists. am gonna check out the hompages you gave and see how donating overseas works. thanks for putting stories like that on your wall. it reminds us what a different life we live here in europe. hope you are well. greets from austria, christina"

Diana Saw said...

Mara Nuon commented on your Note "Touch a Life Food Programme in Siem Reap":

"Diana, it's awesome to you are soo involved in Cambodia's poors. I am touched by your unrelenting commitment to these people. I will be in Cambodia in late July. Hope to drop by.
Good luck!!

Diana Saw said...

John Hanesworth commented on your Note "Touch a Life Food Programme in Siem Reap":

"Hi Diana again,
I just viewed the photos from Mondul 3. It has long been a hope of mine to offer dental care in distressed communities that do not have access to simple emergency dental care. Several years ago I was fortunate enough to participate in a dental and medical mission to some very remote areas in Belize.
We were only equipped to offer basic emergency care (extractions of hopeless, painfully infected teeth), but the relief that provided to the patients was very welcome. I want to do this without any religious mission agenda, where it is needed most. This is something I would like to do in a regular way, once we can spend some more time in SE Asia.
This kind of care requires very little equipment, which I have, but needs somebody with local connections. (You?) Any ideas?
I would love to talk with you more about this.

Diana Saw said...

Mary Beker commented on your Note "Touch a Life Food Programme in Siem Reap":

"diana,thanks for putting this out,of course people will be manipulative,how else can they survive"

Diana Saw said...

Pauline Vegemight commented on your Note "Touch a Life Food Programme in Siem Reap":

"I love this - thanks so much for sharing, Diana!"

Anonymous said...
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Diana Saw said...

Poh Eng Seng commented on your Note "Touch a Life Food Programme in Siem Reap":

"Thanks for sharing, the pics gave a vivid feel of the situation and life in some parts of Cambodia. Do you do this every now and then ? taking friends and people around and see such facets of Cambodia life and unusual tracts?"


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