The Seuy Family Makes Borkeo, Cambodia’s First Healthy Home
Sweat beaded around Seng Suey’s eyebrows in the wet, Cambodia heat. He wiped it with his shirt and walked to the newest facility on his family’s cashew farm.
His eyes smiled and his chest puffed as he stood admiring the new restroom, an orange structure with tile floors and a tin roof.
The Suey family has just become the first certified Healthy Home in Borkeo, Cambodia. A Healthy Home means a family is following five healthy habits that help prevent the spread of disease. When families have a Healthy Home, children attend school more often, parents spend less on health clinic visits, and families spend more time together.
The Tampuan People of Cambodia
Seng Seuy lives in Kop village, Ratanakiri, Cambodia. It’s close to Laos and Vietnam, and he’s lived there all his life. A dense rainforest surrounds his home, and houses are built on stilts to withstand the floods.
Seng is Tampuan, a minority group of 37,000 that all live in the hills of Ratanakiri, the province that houses the district of Borkeo. The Tampuan culture holds that evil spirits cause sickness and death, and to combat this sickness and death, many raise animals to sacrifice to the spirits. Many Tampuan live on communal lands and survive off of farming and other labor-intensive work.
Lifewater began programs in the Borkeo District in April of this year, hiring Cambodian staff and adapting our hygiene training to appeal to the Tampuan so that we might more effectively share healthy practices and the life-giving message of Jesus.
Seng Practices Healthy Habits
When Lifewater began trainings on how to prevent the spread of disease, Seng attended one of these teachings, wondering if these healthy habits could prevent his children from getting sick as much as they did.
At that training, Seng decided he wanted to become a WASH Facilitator, which is a community leader who teaches his neighbors the five practices of improved health. Although simple, these practices save lives every single day.
The five practices include drinking and storing clean water, building an improved restroom, practicing proper hand-washing, crafting a drying rack for dishware, and keeping the area around the home swept and free of rubbish.
Before Seng could even finish applying all five habits, his children and wife began to feel better, and he became determined to be the cleanest home in Ratanakiri.
“Now I am very interested in health and hygiene. And my wife will no longer spend time to boil water. We have a water filter now,” Seng said, pointing toward the durable, locally-sourced ceramic pot filtration system that’s becoming increasingly more common to the area.
Seng recently constructed a safe, sanitary restroom for his parents home in Ratanakiri, and they’re also on their way to becoming a Healthy Home. Congratulations, Suey family!