Peace Boat has been supporting demining activities in Cambodia since 1998, as part of the Peace Boat Landmine Abolition Campaign (P-MAC). On December 6, 2019, participants from the 102nd Global Voyage visited Sna Phae Village, where donations gathered by Peace Boat volunteers led to the clearance of land mines in 2015 and the construction of a new elementary school on this newly safe land in 2016.
In addition to the demining project, Peace Boat has since 2014 also partnered with fresh handmade cosmetics retailer Lush Japan Co. Ltd. in order to deliver soap to this school and conduct various health education projects, specifically, to nurture hand-washing habits, as part of the "Soap by Sea: A Peace Boat & LUSH Partnership for Public Health" Project.
This was the fourth such hand-washing lesson conducted with Peace Boat participants and students at the school. Children who had joined the programme in the past could be seen now teaching others how to wash their hands, showing that these habits are indeed being upheld in the school, along with fun activities such as skipping rope, origami and football.
The school’s teachers play a key role in such awareness raising efforts, contributing to the public health of the village as a whole. In addition, schools also provide guidance on keeping the school clean, throwing garbage in the bin, and other health and hygiene related activities.
The Sna Phae Village Elementary School is now facing another serious issue. A well had been created at the school through donations from an individual, however due to insufficient preliminary surveying regarding the depth of the well, it is unfortunately no longer able to be used. This means that the school is now forced to purchase water. 1,000 liters of water costs 400-500 yen (approximately US$5), but since the Ministry of Education only provides a subsidy, the principal has had to use their own funds to purchase. This vital water is used for hand washing, drinking water, and flushing toilets.
Thus, while the soap deliveries and lessons have made a small contribution to improving the sanitary environment at the school, these financial problems are having a potential damaging impact on children’s health and indeed for the entire village. Peace Boat is now coordinating with other related organizations to support the necessary cooperation to resolve this situation.
We will continue to collaborate with Lush Japan and other partners in order to continue regular exchange visits to the village. Having fun together, washing hands with soap, and enjoying a meal together afterward, participants from all backgrounds can consider the importance of cleanliness and introducing these habits to everyday life.