By Singapore Relief Team (Originally in English)
In September and October 2013, heavy rains caused flooding along the Mekong River. The flooding affected many of Cambodia’s provinces, and led to widespread damage and the loss of 188 lives.
Upon learning of the disaster, Supreme Master Ching Hai requested that our Association members in the region render aid to those affected and sent US$10,000 for the efforts.
In response, a team of our Association members from Singapore flew to Cambodia in early October 2013. After arriving in the capital city of Phnom Penh, our relief team traveled to the eastern Cambodian province of Kampong Cham to assess the situation.
On a boat ride around the area, our team members observed approximately 1,200 families living in makeshift shelters where they were also protecting cows, chickens, dogs and other animal friends. Our team then interviewed villagers to determine their most urgent needs, and provided them with daily necessities including rice, cooking oil, canned and dry vegan food and canvas covers.
Our relief team then returned to Phnom Penh to conduct more research, and learned that the northwestern part of Cambodia was the country’s most severely affected region. The next day, our team set off for Siem Reap, a province in northwestern Cambodia known as the gateway to Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument. The journey took 12 hours instead of the usual six due to constant rain and the many flooded areas along the way.
All our team members were grateful for Supreme Master Ching Hai’s blessing when we met a local guide in Siem Reap who was familiar with the roads in northwestern Cambodia. He helped us search for people in urgent need of aid.
While driving through Battambang, the water level was so high on a road leading to the village of Pursat that water rushed quickly into our team’s vehicle and the engine stalled, leaving us unable to move. Then one local resident helped pull the vehicle out of the water, and another towed it to an auto repair shop right in front of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) office whose members were engaged in disaster relief work.
Our relief team members next spoke with the local UNICEF leader, Mr. Khieng Sochivy, who helped narrow the search area, explaining that nine out of 13 districts in Battambang had been affected by the flooding. In one of these districts, our team found many villages with damaged crops, destroyed homes and temporary shelters along the roadsides. Many people had been left homeless and jobless.
Thus, our team members quickly purchased over 16 metric tons of rice and 1,635 bottles of soy sauce along with candy for the village children. Many people from the village helped repack the rice into smaller, 10-kilogram packets.
In total, supplies were distributed to 7,625 people from 1,635 families in Battambang. The district head, village leaders and villagers were happy and grateful to receive the supplies, cheering and clapping loudly when our team shared that the gifts came from Supreme Master Ching Hai. The children were especially happy to receive the candy. Everyone present smiled, put their hands together and bowed when receiving the much-needed items.
Miraculously, we had an extra 70 packets of rice remaining, which were given to volunteer workers, truck drivers, police officers, and people from nearby villages who were present during the distribution event.
Our Association members who participated in the Cambodian relief effort wish to sincerely thank Supreme Master Ching Hai for giving us the priceless opportunity to help others in need.
Expenditures by Supreme Master Ching Hai
for Flood Relief Work in Cambodia
|Food (rice and soy sauce), candy for children and labor fee for packing rice||38,624,000||A|
|Miscellaneous expenses (truck rental, bags and printing coupons)||2,216,000||B|
Throughout the relief operation, the relief team members paid for their own transportation, board and lodging, which totaled approximately US$1,928.