For the first time in a long time, World Vision won’t be joining the Koas Krala for their annual holiday festivities. That’s because after 18 years of working in the Cambodian community, we’re saying goodbye. And that actually gives us reason to celebrate!
Does sponsorship really change the course of a community for good? One look at Koas Krala and you’ll know the answer.
When sponsorship first arrived in Koas Krala in 2003, we found a community that was suffering at the hands of malnutrition. Dirty drinking water meant children were sick all the time and poor road infrastructure made it impossible for parents to reach the health center for help.
Driving into Koas Krala today, it’s hard to believe it’s the same place. At the children’s club—a safe space for children to learn and play—healthy girls and boys are making cards for their World Vision sponsors while the health center is welcoming its newest cohort of trained community health workers.
None of this was here in 2003. Back then, generous supporters like you helped the community to take the first, critical step to improving their children’s health: installing better sanitation infrastructure, like toilets and water tanks with taps. That was the beginning of 18 years of work to support the people of Koas Krala to transform their community into the place it is today.
Sponsors’ support and shared vision has meant we can work consistently alongside the community and help them break free from poverty, for good. Consistent commitment enabled them to provide the building blocks to a sustainable future: things like clean water and toilets, as well as an education system, trained community health workers and a network of people in the community who look out for children and protect them from falling through the cracks.
One of these children is 10-year old Karona. When he was first sponsored, he was underweight and malnourished. Today, we are so thrilled that Korona, as well as 698 other boys and girls, have made a full recovery through our nutrition program. Sponsorship is behind the continued decline in child malnutrition across Koas Krala. It has also meant that 86 per cent of households now have improved sanitation facilities, like toilets and water taps and are practicing better hygiene—and together, those things are driving down the number of children getting sick from unsafe drinking water.
This has knock-on benefits too. Children who aren’t hungry or sick are much more likely to stay in school and, backed by a network of parents, teachers, the school and other community members supporting kids to learn, the community has seen school dropout rates fall by more than 60%!
"To ensure children are well nourished, they need clean water, good health care, education and to have the right foods at the right time,” says World Vision’s Technical Officer for Health Nutrition, Mr. Kong San. “This means we need to have good plans so families can access nutritious foods through markets and agriculture, and a child’s nutritional status should be regularly monitored at the health centre and at home, especially in their first 1000 days of life."
It’s because of these community-focused and community-led solutions that child sponsorship doesn’t just benefit your sponsored child, but all the other children in the community too. It’s also because of this that we’re able to leave communities knowing that they are set up for a sustainable future, equipped to tackle the root causes of poverty to achieve a future free from poverty. Sponsorship builds up local knowledge, resources, confidence, experience and connections to create long term self-sufficiency, rather than short-term fixes. Community members own the solutions that drive transformation—and their transformed community is a place where all children – not just sponsored children—can thrive.
So, when sponsorship ended in Koas Krala in September 2021, we knew the community was in good hands. While goodbyes are always hard, we also have a lot to celebrate. We know that parents and caregivers can continue to give their children love and protection by keeping them healthy because they have good sanitation and nearby healthcare centres. We know that kids can continue to learn because they have school libraries, reading camps and learning centres in place. We know that parents can now provide for their family’s needs because at least 12 Saving Groups and Agriculture Co-Ops are improving their local income earning opportunities, so they no longer have to migrate for work.
Now, that gives all of us - from sponsors to the people of Koas Krala - a reason to celebrate this Christmas.
“I’m thankful to sponsors,” says Programme Manager, Pho Chek who has been working in Koas Krala and has witnessed the community change firsthand. “They’ve dedicated time and resources and worked with us through the development process of sustainability.”
Self-sustaining transformation is the reason we can say goodbye to Koas Krala this year—even in the midst of a pandemic.
This Christmas, you can empower a child and their community to break free from poverty, for good, just like the children of Koas Krala.