September 7th 2009 - Phnom Penh
Today, it is the meeting with the head of WFP in Cambodia, which occupies our minds when we wake up. We soon take our bikes and ride to the place of our appointment, 4km away.
Jean-Pierre de Margerie receives us very kindly and we soon after some brief introductions, get to the heart of the matter. The Cambodian situation is rather special because, although rice production is surplus, there are more than 20% of the population without access to regular and sufficient food and up to 40% during certain periods. This is explained by the fact that some regions, particularly rural, live in extreme poverty, while food prices are increasing. The most vulnerable victims are obviously pregnant women and very young children.
We are also interested in the history of WFP during 30 years of their presence in Cambodia. Jean-Pierre explains that, until the mid-90s, support was mainly directed towards emergency (distribution of free food on the ground). Since that time, the country had somewhat stabilized politically, projects in the longer term could be started. The current main activity is the distribution of meals in schools in order to increase enrollment and attendance of school children and give them the energy to study. It is indeed very important, since today's children will be the builders of the country tomorrow. Another program is called Food For Work: construction of roads to enable remote access to markets and for agriculture to deliver its production. All these projects are part of a future and long term vision, the ultimate goal being that the country can meet the future needs of its entire population. We are still VERY far from that.
1'782'000 people are directly assisted by WFP in Cambodia.
Let's remain with the numbers ... To date, we have already 291km "sponsored" to support those who really need it. It is a good start! But believe us, poor people who need such assistance certainly by far exceeds what you can imagine. When we arrived at night yesterday, it is the eyes of two children - a boy and a girl - aged up to 7 or 8 years old, that marked us. They were roaming the streets searching the debris. No adults around. Were these kids left to themselves? We do not know it, but what is certain is that on our planet, while some live in relative comfort and in any case, in total food security (us Westerners), others do not have any roof to sleep, nor, worse still, no access to food in sufficient quantity and quality to grow, stay healthy or simply to stay alive.
Thank you for encouraging us to continue our action. Please donate now! Whatever amount you can give, it will be added to the others and will push back a little hunger in the world . Thank you!