Where safe water and education flow

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For the sake of her students and her family, Sa expressed how thankful she is to finally have a safe water connection at home

A couple of hours southwest of Cambodia’s bustling capital sits a small, rural village Sa calls home. While the traffic and population subside as you travel from Phnom Penh to her village, the saturation of Cambodia’s iconic gold gilded temples remains consistent. Cambodia is truly rich in culture and religious obedience, from the city to Sa’s home. However, the country is not rich with one of life’s most basic necessities: safe water.

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A temple sits just feet from Sa's home and vegetable garden.

Out of Cambodia’s population of 16 million people, 12 million people lack access to a reliable, safely managed source of water. This crisis means kids may not have the time or health to attend school, families lack the time and health to work and earn income, and communities struggle to thrive. Sa explained her water crisis sharing, “Before, I had to collect water from the river. This was exhausting.” Sa knows all too well the challenges of the water crisis. And so does someone else in her community who decided to do something about it.

"Before, I had to collect water from the river. This was exhausting."
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Hom Nguon, the owner of Kampong Chamlong Water Supply (KCWS), is helping people in his own community get access to safe water in their homes.

What changed Sa’s story and helped improve her family’s lives and those of her community members was the decision of a neighbor named Hom Nguon. Hom found the water crisis to be one of his country’s most critical issues to address. He saw his neighbors, women like Sa—educated, hardworking, and raising families without access to the water they needed to survive and thrive. Hom wanted to do something about it. So, he worked to set up a water utility company that could reach nearby homes through a piped network flowing with safe water. After years of learning and hard work, Hom established Kampong Chamlong Water Supply (KCWS). Water.org and other supporting organizations helped improve and expand Hom's service so today KCWS serves more than 12,000 households across 7 communities in rural Cambodia, including Sa’s home.

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In 2003, Hom Nguon established Kampong Chamlong Water Supply.

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"Now we have access to piped water which makes our life easier – cooking, washing, and bathing. I can say life is easier in every way."

A retired teacher in her seventies, Sa finally has access to the one thing that always challenged her family and their village. Today, rather than endure those exhausting walks to the river to collect water, Sa remains home where she dedicates her days to teaching children in her village whose families could not otherwise afford to send them to school. From a makeshift classroom in her home, Sa teaches her students math and reading and all about their country’s resilient history.

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Some of Sa's students are her great-grandchildren, and others are from her village.

Sa explained that parents pay her what they can afford. She smiled when she shared how, with what she earns, she is able to comfortably pay her water utility bill each month. Sa’s initial KCWS water connection fee was approximately $34 USD. With her connection and pipes in place, Sa pays about $5 USD per month to have a lasting, reliable source of safe water flowing to her home where she and her family enjoy their days learning, earning, and caring for one another and their community.

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