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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

TravelAid - Day 1

Day 1 of volunteering - Water surveys

The aim of today was to visit some areas where JWOC had already installed some wells to see if they were being used by the villagers. We visited a number of villages in the Angjor Thom area. Questions were not only about their water use but also more general health issues such as sanitation and understanding of disease. Interestingly, going to the jungle meant going to the toilet 5m from your front door and/or very close to your fresh water source. Also, many villagers 'understood' birth control but not pregnancy; and everyone was 1.50m tall though we later found that tape measures, coincidently, maxed out at 150cm! In addition to such water and health questions, we asked about the availability and interest rates of loans because Brendan (the JWOC big man) has been looking to set up fair loans for those with good beusinness ideas. It turns out that those with loans thought that an interest rate of 120% was fairly good value!

We had earlier, in Siem Reap, bought a football and a few other toys to give to any children. We found a suitable place to drop off the football in the last village we visited. The 10 or so children loved it and we played football and catch with them for a good half hour or so before getting back to the job in hand. Unfortunately the 'delay' meant that the monsoon rain struck while we were still exposed. Luckily shelter was close at hand and all the surveys were still legible when we returned to JWOC HQ.

All in all a fantastic first day and it showed to us how much the villagers appreciate the wells and the help that we can provide. Rarely, if ever, had we met so many genuinely friendly and welcoming people.
Andrea, Anya, Mike and Rhodri

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