Posted by Spencer Biessel

Locals bring access to clean water to children in Cambodia

Students in Battambang, Cambodia are gaining access to clean water for the first time in their lives thanks to the Faribault Rotary Club and other Rotary members. (Photo courtesy of Dick Huston)
Reprinted with permission from the Daily News
The Faribault Rotary Club is dedicated to making an impact — oftentimes locally and other times far from home. The Faribault Rotary Club raised $30,000 locally. Rotary International also contributed funds to the project in Battambang, a city in northwestern Cambodia.
“The project was about $75,000 — money well spent that will provide clean water and nutrition for this community for years and years,” Huston said.  He explained the beginning of the process on the Rotary’s end.  “Rotary does these kinds of events all over the world. We saw the need, and we went about it over a long period and got a grant written, raising the money, and getting the project started.”
The Faribault Rotary could not have accomplished the project without the assistance of the Battambang Rotary Club or Rotary International.
“In order for the Rotary to do an international project like this, we need to be sponsored by a local rotary,” Huston said.
Purifier building
This building will soon hold the water purification machine for the school. The building is now complete, but it will be several months before the purifier is up and running. (Photo courtesy of Dick Huston)
Huston and the rest of the Faribault locals who went on the trip were impressed by how much help the Battambang Rotary members provided.
“One thing important to Rotary International is sustainability,” Huston said. The members from the Battambang Rotary Club are great. The children are first and foremost in our goals.”
Huston and the other Rotarians set out on this trip to help the people of Battambang after Rotarian Sam Ouk pointed out the need. Ouk was born in Cambodia but came to America when he was young. Because he has family that still lives in Cambodia, he had contacts there to help arrange the trip and project.
Holding Pond
The project involved creating a holding pond. This allows the school to store enough water to safely get through the dry periods each year. (Photo courtesy of Dick Huston)
When Faribault’s Rotarians made it to Cambodia, they got to see firsthand why this project was so important.   “These kids are going to a school with no electricity, meaning no AC, no fans,” Huston said. “Every day we were there was at least in the 90s. We established a garden so that they could have better school lunches. The goal is to have extra from the garden and purifier to be able to sell some of each.”
When they arrived in Cambodia, the Rotarians were given some additional funding from donors. They decided to use this funding to bring some joy to the kids there. This is when the group got a real understanding of the urgency of their project.
“We used that money to buy pencils, books, candy, and gave these things to the school children,” Huston said. “One of the little girls collapsed in line to get her book. It came to our attention that that girl was dehydrated and malnourished. She’s going to be OK now. They need not only water, but also nutrition. The importance of the project was brought forth in that one incident.”
Lo Chay and Dick
Dick Huston (right) stands with Battambang Rotary’s president Lo Chay (left). (Photo courtesy of Dick Huston)
Reach reporter Spencer Beissel at 507-333-3129. © Copyright 2022 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.