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Poipet: Swimming to School

October 17, 2010

Poipet is a city on the border of Thailand and Cambodia.  Because of its proximity to Bangkok, tens of thousands of people have moved to this town for the hope of jobs in Thailand.  This area has significant issues of human trafficking, abandonment of children, and other social problems; yet, this is one of Cambodia’s fastest growing cities. The current population is approximately 120,000 people.

 

One of dozens of flooded roads

 

Each year nearly the entire city is inundated with floods.  This is because of the typography in which the city sits; it is a flat plain where the main population lives is approximately one meter lower than the surrounding area.  There is very little drainage capacity, however, much of the city’s minimal resources are used for roads and drainage projects.  As the government has resources, they are slowly building some capacity, however, the growth of the city far outstrips the capacity and resources to develop the city.

As a result, thousands of children are put at risk to water-borne illnesses, inadequate school facilities which are flooded up to six months out of the year, and numerous fatalities due to drowning and flood related sickness.  Even the classrooms themselves remain flooded for months out of the year.

Three schools (two primary and one junior high school) which educate more than 1,900 students need emergency relief.  The relief however, would be best served to provide a permanent solution to the flooding of the schools.  Each school is significantly lower than the road and surrounding homes and has no drainage.  The property can be raised to a safe level, draining pipes for removing excess water from the property and simple sidewalks and grass planted to clean up the facilities and reduce the threat from the current unhygienic facilities.

 

Swimming to class

 

Our children’s center is safe and dry, but access to the center is extremely difficult because most of the approach roads (dirt roads) are flooded and nearly impassable. Even though the schools are flooded by up to four feet of water, and the classrooms themselves have more than a foot of water in them, classes continue.  Why?  Because the schools are flooded for nearly six months. . . every single year! If the children are going to get any education, they have to learn in a flood school for much of the year.

I would love to be able to bring earth moving equipment into these schools and give them a complete make-over! They need to be raised, sidewalks paves and permanent drainage installed.  We figure it would cost about $30,000 a school.  We could use building teams, painting teams and funds for fill dirt, drainage and concrete to make these schools into proper learning institutions where the students aren’t required to swim to school!

 

A Flooded Local Shop

 

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