The economic situation in Siem Reap and the impact of Dave and Steph on our family.

by Reaksa Soun

First of all Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts to Dave and Steph for our relationship, especially since you have supported us with the value of being parents. My wife and I have been so happy and grateful to see children going to school and pursuing their educational goals in difficult economic circumstances because of our friendship working together on this front line. Our dreams are to see the children get a good education in schools while at home, we spend time taking loving care of them to grow up. Because not everyone in this community has access to school, being supported with all of these wonderful opportunities is truly overwhelming and very fortunate.

The economic situation in Siem Reap.

We live in different parts of the world and have very varied living situations and tastes in life. Some portions of the world have been destroyed, while others are in good condition. We will never believe that the virus Covid 19 explosions, the Ukrainian war, and climate change have occurred so far. We have learned to deal with how we are able to survive and how to keep ideas moving forward through ground breaking work. Even if we knew worse things were going to happen in advance, we still did not know what to do for life and economic security and how we had made any preparations for those disasters because family economic instability, poverty, and hunger would occur.

When our stomach is empty, it is the absence of education. Over three decades of civil war in Cambodia and over three decades after the war has been over, Cambodia remains on the list of poor countries namely during the time of Covid 19 Virus pandemic, the war in Ukraine and presence of the climate change, the country of 16.01 million and its economy has been fallen into vulnerability and social insecurity has arisen, they are based on instability of agricultural production and its chains, instability of exports of goods and services, the economic importance of non-traditional activities, merchandise export concentration, a handicap of economic smallness, and the percentage of the population displaced by natural disaster in this current situation of climate change. The garment industry represents the largest portion of Cambodia’s manufacturing sector, with over 8 million people who get impacted directly or indirectly because garment factories have been closed down so far as it is the main part of economic chains locally. Only In 2016, the garment industry accounted for 16 % of the national gross domestic product (GDP) Cambodia Garment Sector. Because of the current failure of the government to aid small, and medium private sectors during their economic crisis and more and more businesses are collapsing, and more unemployed people are arising especially since the government could not reach for working more details from the ground break work with each of families in the community food growing, these lead all unemployed from the garment industry and other sectors to illegally seeking works in neighboring countries such as Thailand and others and the big damage in that about 85 % of each family in Cambodia have debt from the banks, micro financial institution and other illegal private lenders who make higher interest. However, instead of those problems, Cambodia has larger land in agriculture, and about 85% of its population are family farmers traditionally which their harvest is up and down relies on the climate but all of those betterments could not happen so effectively because the roots of illiteracy in Cambodia is deep that older people ( parents or grandparents in the rural countryside are not able to see the value of education and its quality for the next generations. But as our story part, very fortunately things in education are in our hands we are in great challenge to earn knowledge through hard work for its quality and we have very dedicated parents and so supportive mates Dave and Steph to open the educational door for us to follow our dream. We are so grateful for every step we walk on this journey.

Siem Reap used to be a renowned tourist destination in Cambodia, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world to see the gorgeous temples. However, because we rely significantly on tourists; visitors are our primary target market, the COVID-19 viral invasion has had a significant influence on locals here. There are numerous causes for students to drop out of school in the current situation. Many family farmers have abandoned their crops and their everyday lives by illegally entering Thailand as construction workers and farm laborers. Of course, they entered illegally since they couldn’t afford the government-set passport rates. No one knows how much impact people have suffered  so far since we don’t know how long it will last, but long periods of hunger force people to lose human integrity. Food hunger circles will never allow them to understand how better the generation is when their children are hungry. That means people can be good learners or teachers if they have enough food to maintain a healthy body and pay good mental attention… and they will have the opportunity to enhance the living environment and the environment for the future generation physically, emotionally, and educationally. If we look at Cambodia’s GDP, it is fine for the countryside people who can also produce food on their land around for feeding physicians, but the living standard gap in Cambodia is extremely worse for human beings….the family villagers are in food needy so far and struggling to grow by nature (depending on seasons) during climate change (strong heat, storms, and flooding with no seasons). The lack of water systems to control or manage growing instead of the traditional way, the family growing community and consumer services are very lacking in supporting each other instead for life survival mostly the whole country mostly eats vegetables, fruits, and others from neighboring countries because the people must eat what they can see in the market places but they cannot have the money tool back for reinvesting at where they live. Another major issue is the wealth gap between the rich and the poor. It is the worst difference that has led to social insecurity, and the government has announced that all prisons in Cambodia are overcrowded. The local community villagers are not only facing poverty at this time, but they are also in bank debt or private microfinance institute debts that they have no chance of using the money for improving what they do in their gardens, those are real traps in life and the real enemy that they must learn how to fight economically in each family. Here is a concept for raising the living standards of the local community by beginning with their gardens. creating a variety of local jobs, social businesses of vegetable supplies at their location, and growing skills by beginning with marketing, creating value for the benefit of customers, sellers, and workers. Because each place of growth has its own unique type of local growing production (increase or create capacity of social entrepreneurs, sales delivery jobs, and others in their location), the community product will local traffic to other places where their market demands their locations in increasing awareness of different demands. This local economic chain will help local community families repair their family economy, ensuring that all families in the community have food and that their children have a stable educational environment. The vision will improve society and deliver advantages directly or indirectly since the chain will keep food money moving within the country and use this opportunity for a healthy earth. Essentially, a water system must be organized and controlled for the gardens to ensure that they can grow by garden management rather than rain. Water is essential to life. We believe that the process will eventually become self-sustaining. Warm hugs and love, Tola and the family.

Dave and Steph impact on our family

Dave and Steph have helped us a lot. It all began from 7 years ago during our first meet at our homestay. I remember that one specific night when we were talking at the dinner table and I explained my family financial problem and how I won’t be able to continue my study at ACE ( Australia Centre for Education). Fortunately, they wanted to support my education, financially, and they did. They do not just supported me alone, but also my two other siblings ( Kanica and Sopheak) and my cousin ( Srey Mai) as well. I would say that was a life changing moment for our family. Being able to get access to education is our dreams and to get supported for that means a lot to us.



Me and Sopheak were unsuccessful in making it to Australia last year despite Dave and Steph’s best efforts since we failed the test required for our visas. The outcome we were experiencing had caused a delay in the plan. After all, they still continued to sponsor my studies for my university, which is truly one of my best opportunities. With their help, I was able to attend a school of my dreams to study. They have a significant personal influence on me since they enable me to go on a new chapter of my life and encounter people and situations I never would have experienced. I still find it hard to comprehend that I’m attending my dream college. We are genuinely grateful for our relationship and the support. They made a huge impact in our family, without their support, we wouldn’t be where we are today.


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