March 6, 2010

Volunteers go to Kratie Province

Finally back in Phnom Penh, and after a good night's sleep, I can't wait to start writing about the week. My sweetened-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life cup of tea is at the ready as I review the photographs from Kratie province. The Conversations with Foreigners (CWF) volunteers made our pilgrimage to the Cambodian Rural Development Team's (CRDT) headquarters in Kratie Town and to the island village of Koh Pdao to see the projects that CWF helps fund. Our four-day trip included an orientation to CRDT and an overnight stay in the village to see the projects that CRDT has helped established.

CRDT was established in 2001 by four university students who believed in sustainable and environmentally-conscious ways of improving the lives of rural Cambodians. Now a successful and well-known NGO, CRDT has helped over 3,000 families in Northeastern Cambodia. Like all NGO's, CRDT needs a source of funding, and that's where CWF comes in. The Conversations with Foreigners school was created as a way to fund the projects and to provide a unique and cost-effective place for foreigners to volunteer. Students pay $40 per 10 week session to study with a foreign teacher. After the base costs of payroll and school maintenance are fulfilled, all remaining profit is given directly to CRDT. The students who pay tuition to CWF are typically from provincial areas; so in addition to the cheaper price, the incentive to support their own communities influences many students' decisions to study with CWF.

Like the Sustainable Tourism book on our table says, this trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see how the majority of Cambodia lives.

For more information about the CRDT follow this link: http://www.crdt.org.kh/