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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Children's village uses sustainable initiatives to cut costs, teach kids

Children's village uses sustainable initiatives to cut costs, teach kids

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NGO New Hope for Cambodian Children in Kampong Speu province is using renewable energy to make it less reliant on donations.

Photo by: PHOTO supplied

A child at the ‘Our Village‘ community in Kampong Speu province.

AS the global financial crisis threatens the budgets of international aid groups and NGOs, one organisation is trying to meet the market meltdown head on by turning to renewable energy as a way to mind its bottom-line as donor funds dry up.

New Hope for Cambodian Children, founded in 2006 by John and Kathy Tucker, aims at expanding assistance to children living with HIV/AIDS through a self-reliant and economically sustainable housing project.

Our Village, a community based on a 24-hectare plot of land in Kampong Speu province, houses 160 children who have all found themselves, one way or another, without family, housing or support networks of their own.

Some still have families, but ones that are simply unable to care for them.

Some children are used to having only one meal a day, but  here they get three.

While the group helps HIV-positive children to remain with their families, some have no alternative but to be cared for at Our Village, employees there say.

"Although the children love their families, they often have a difficult life with them," the project's program director, Sok Phalla, told the Post.

"For instance, some children are used to having only one meal a day, but here they get three," he said.

Planning for the future

Sok Phalla said that the village's many sustainable initiatives, such as a biodiesel generator that provides electricity in the evenings and solar panels that generate electric power during the day, help prevent the organisation from relying too heavily on donations.

The village also uses methane-powered stoves, which reuses the waste collected from pigs raised in the village's own barns.

The children are taught how to look after the pigs and other animals, which are sold to raise revenue for the upkeep of the village.

Sok Phalla admits the economic crisis has had an effect on the income from livestock.

"We do not receive as much money as we previously did from the sale of our animals," he said.

But he believes the village's approach to sustainable and renewable projects means it is more protected from the fluctuation of the market than other organisations.

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