SIF – ITE Water for Life Program in Siem Reap, Cambodia, Mar 13 to Dec 14
SIF, which stands for Singapore International Foundation, is a non-profit organization which focuses on building enduring relationships between Singaporeans and the world communities, harnessing these friendships to enrich lives and effect positive change. Their programmes bring people together to share ideas, skills and resources to effect real change in areas such as healthcare, education, the environment, arts and culture, as well as livelihood and business. One of the programs, Water for Life (WFL) in Siem Reap, is a four-year-long collaboration in partnership with Water for Cambodia and Angkor Hospital for Children. The program is Singapore International Foundation’s very first installation of direct-service clean water project to improve the sanitation and hygiene practices in the Cambodian communities of Siem Reap.
The partnership between ITE and SIF was initiated by our Deputy Director Mr Raymond See who registered as a volunteer together with a group of staff from Department of Chemical Process Technology. They participated in one of the WFL project in Kampong Speu (Phnom Penh) in September 2012, targeting to build and install bio-sand water filters in the village. The main objective of the WFL project is to meet the vital basic need of getting clean water for daily activities and in return, trying to reduce the mortality rate attributed by water-borne diseases and to improve the overall quality of life.
(Left Picture) Condition of water drawn from the ground without a filter. (Right Picture) Crystal Clear water with implementation of the bio-sand water filter built by ITE.
In spreading its wings further for this meaningful cause, the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) signed a Letter of Collaboration in 22 August 2013. Under this collobration, ITE students were provided with a structural overseas community service oppourtiunities with the SIF’s Water for Life (WFL) program in Cambodia. This enables students to volunteer overseas and contribute to a sustainable development through the WFL project as well as creating a holistic environment for experiential learning. Students were able to benefit by using the theoretical knowledge taught in class and to transform them into real live event and application. For instance, in the course of mixing construction materials to make the bio-sand filters, they will get to observe real-time chemical processes, the principles of filtration and the impact on the community.
In the first two years of our collaboration (Mar 2013 – Dec 2014), ITE managed to involved a total of 88 staff and students. The different groups travelled as volunteers and returned with transformed perspectives. Aside to this, our staff and students managed to collect a total amount of over USD $3000 as donation to purchase a new cement mixing engine and more than 300 sets of hygiene sets for the villagers in Siem Reap Communities. Lastly, our staff and students also actively helped to improve the Dan Run Health Centre’s infrastructure and created a more positive and uplifting environment for the local community.
Volunteers at work – ITE Staff and students from the Chemical Process Technology Department and Volunteer from SIF (man in black tee)
Volunteers at work – Students helping out at the Health Care Centre
Through this collaboration between SIF and ITE, the access to clean drinking water and the quality of life of Cambodian rural communities has improved, giving them a better chance at survival and a more sustainable life in the future.
The clean water programme, Water for Life in Siem Reap, came to a closing in December 2014, with the last team of staff and students to contribute to the project. Over the past four years, over 17,000 Cambodian families have benefited from over 2,600 bio-sand filters installed in their home and health education programmes conducted in Dan Run and Dam Dek communes. Equipped with a new source of clean water and valuable life skills, our Cambodian friends have the capacity to continue these skills and habits, in hope to achieve a more improved quality of life for their community.
Article Contributed by: Ms Tay Choon Yen, Lecturer/Chemical Process Technology/ITE College East