Siem Reap is one of the poorest provinces in Cambodia. Most tourists associate this beautiful region with the Angkor Wat Temple Complex which spreads across an extensive area throughout the countryside. Nevertheless Siem Reap has seen its fair share of the horrendous Khmer Rouge Regime, and its effects are still present amongst the population. Landmines are still scattered throughout the region, all too often set off by a remote farmer tending to his land or adventurous children chasing each other through the dense forests. Due to the war many were left poor, homeless, or badly injured and unable to provide a sustainable income. As a result desperate measures were taken to ensure some form of salary and support their family and survival.
The forests and monuments often carried the weight and sacrificed their sustainability for this survival mechanism. Fortunately, Siem Reap has been turned around and has become one of the top destinations for ecotourism. Aside from the sustainable approach to the region’s natural beauty, community projects have been established to aid the less fortunate individuals who suffered at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. However, many individuals are often underprivileged as a result of the poor circumstances, and are given an opportunity to establish a promising future.
One of the well known and much visited projects is that set up by Aki Ra who was a former child soldier, trained in disabling land mines. As a result he has set up the Cambodia Landmine Museum and Relief Facility. This not only gives visitors an opportunity to learn about the historical landmines, various weapons, and tactics utilized and retrieved from the countryside. It also provides a facility that aids children affected by mines and poverty helping them meet basic needs such as a home and schooling opportunities. Furthermore the museum employs adult amputees and offering their family with an income. There are various other projects that attend to children suffering from impoverished conditions, as orphans or physically abused. Many of the organizations attend to the values that were lost during the Khmer Rouge regime such as the arts, education, family, and age-old traditions.
For those who seek a more environmental option, the Sam Veasna Centre for Wildlife Conservation is one of the several responsible tour organizers that explore the natural beauty; flora and fauna of Cambodia whilst benefiting the rural communities. You can visit the sanctuary where you may see the endangered Ibises, as well as an astounding number of other bird species, even a possible glimpse at the Eld’s Deer. At the regular feeding territory of the endangered vultures you can watch them dine up close and personal. The funds go to local projects such as wells, roads, or school buildings whilst the visitors are accompanied by English trained guides who provide you with expert information on the wildlife and the environment.
Since there are countless projects and each one unique and significant in its own way you can contact us to gather more information about Siem Reap, or Phnom Penh, and other locations Around Cambodia and the various projects they provide.