Education means victory against malaria in Cambodia

“If you stay long enough, you will see transformation,” a staff member in Cambodia once told me.

When it comes to lasting solutions to extreme poverty, the road can be long … and bumpy …but if you persevere, you will see things you never thought possible. Along the way, you'll celebrate many victories. 

I'd like to share with you a victory from a very remote village in Northern Cambodia called Pralean. Even though this is one of the poorer villages in an already poor area, the people are driven to better their community. Their leader is strong and well-respected.

Here, education is key. 

To make the most of donated money, FH provides little monetary assistance but, instead, builds strong relationships with leaders and families, teaching people how to use their resources to their full advantage. When I visited Cambodia in 2010, I saw a school built not by FH, but by parents who latched on to FH's message of the value of education.

When FH began working in Pralean in 2007, malaria — one of the world's deadliest diseases — was identified as a major problem. Almost half (48 percent) of the individuals reported having it at one time or another, and they believed it was caused by angry spirits, not mosquitoes.

Many families assumed that when they contracted malaria, it was because they hadn't made enough sacrifices to their ancestors. Some had mosquito nets but weren't using them properly, and many had no nets at all.

Instead of handing out mosquito nets which actually are quite affordable, FH focuses on teaching people how to use them and explaining why they work. Then, people to go and buy their own nets.

Just three years after starting work in Pralean, FH saw incidences of malaria drop from 1 in 2 to 1 in 4 — solid evidence that education has profound effects in communities willing to learn.

How do you educate a whole community?

Around the world, FH makes good use of volunteers. When it comes to life-saving messages like malaria prevention, people step up to help their neighbors. In Cambodia, FH works with self-selected Village Development Committees in each village to identify specific needs and figure out how to meet them using their own resources.

The Committee plus other volunteers visit nearby homes, make posters to share with others, and teach proper health and hygiene. During village meetings (like town halls), the leader raises awareness of the issue, and people listen.

FH conducts after-school children's clubs to teach children about health and hygiene, God's love for them, and basic educational principles.
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By using volunteers and helping people do much with few resources, FH stretches dollars. Your $9 donation each month can do great things for people in need; please consider joining Poverty 180 today!

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