Readers' Submissions

Charity in Laos and Cambodia

  • Written by Anonymous
  • July 25th, 2007
  • 6 min read



Charity is self- enlightening and teaches you about yourself. The ability to give to others who are in need is something rare. Satisfaction from knowing that you did the right thing at the right time is something which you can add to a successful vacation. Travel is an experience which can include these parts.

During travel all over SE Asia we often see real poor people, by any standards, but this doesn't mean we are there to support all those poor people. However, a small contribution and /or other acts of charity can be very helpful to these people. Spending a lot of money is not the only thing we can do. Goodwill and many forms of help can be enough in some cases. Our small contributions can be mean a lot.

This submission was written after reading about BKKSW's charity experiences with charity and the projects he manages to run with some people he adopts and helps. This is a very important because I don’t believe you need any "middle men" like charity organizations or government agencies to be involved as their budgets often include a large percentage of the funding going to administrative, travel, and salaries. More, I like to do charity on my own so I can see the experiences myself.

Here are some of the experiences I had in south East Asia. Most of the experiences were not expected.

Laos – Luang Prabang – the Red Cross office in the city.

I donated blood to the local hospital. The clinic is located in the Red Cross. Most of the donators there are tourists. I ask myself, “where are the locals?” Most donators are foreigners.

Where are the local hospitals? From what I saw thee were not many hospitals around. A few days later I was asked to donate blood. Hmm….. Well… I did a few days ago."

“Never mind, you can help more" said the local man in the Red Cross. I only went to use the sauna there. One time to donate blood is good enough.

Cambodia- Batambang – outside the city.

I had rented a local tour guide with a motorcycle. Coming from Thailand I brought some stuff which I would not use and I didn’t need anymore. It was a good opportunity to do something I had planned. I could give it to people who might need it.

I asked my guide Chan to locate for me a poor family somewhere in the city. We travel around and find ourselves outside the city. After some wandering around we found a family. They had a wood hut with not much there. No property or anything around the hut. To make it worse, we found out no one of them worked! My guide introduced me and I gave them all the stuff I had carried from Thailand. When you have nothing, everything is needed and important.

My guide got into deep conversation and after translation I found out that the daughter didn’t have any money to pay her monthly payment to school. I gave her the money which was needed since it was important for me. Right after my army service in the Israeli army, 3 long years, I entered university without any real support. My last payment from the army was so small which wasn’t enough for anything. During studies I was working. A woman whom I didn’t know donated money for my Scholarship. To me it was a real novel thing. And a big help.

In Cambodia I close a circle. I didn’t plan it but at the time I thought it was really a good idea. Now it was my turn to help others. The whole family and the daughter embraced. For sure it wasn’t a scum. After we left I had a great feeling. I did the right thing at the right time. I always will remember this. A reasonable donation was good enough.

Usually I don’t donate to charity organizations since I don’t want to finance those organizations, the salaries, air tickets etc. On the other side are those who get the donations – how do they share it? What do they take themselves? At the end of the line stands those who need it, getting nothing or very little. The "good parts" go to the" big sharks" in the food chain. And to the close circles.

The main problem contains two parts. A combination of poor population (in general) without serious ability to make a decent income compared to the local economy, and undeveloped medical system which functions in a very low standard.. Since this website is a stage to many people, maybe someone with ability will pick up the glove and can help.

In Laos I found out the there is actually no hospitals for mentally sick people. The locals do help with food. I assume medicine is needed including bed and food. I don't know what the medical situation there is. I suspect not much and very expensive. Nowadays, medicine for people with mental problems is available in the west and some are not expensive.

Another issue which I saw in Laos happens mostly with the kids. Most walk without shoes or flip flops. The results is that the little feet of many kids are full of calluses. A simple treatment with nitrogen might solve this problem and provide help to many people and kids in the remote villages in the jungles. The help of a skin doctor can help a lot.

More examples

Mike – A good friend of mine from Great Britain adopted a family in Mali, Africa. Sending them each month about 200 Euro, for most people it's not that much money, but in Africa it means a big difference. The difference between life and starving to death.

Japanese people – in Cambodia, on the road between Siem Reap and the Banteaysrei Temple (unique temple made of brown sand stone, located far from the Angkor Wat complex). On the way you can see that in the local private wooden houses there is a well near each house. Near the well there is a sign with the name of private Japanese people who donate money for excavating the well.

Laos – all over the country there are local schools. Near the entrance there is a sign "from the people of Japan". Maybe this project was financed by the Japanese government? A very important thing indeed for all the young kids there in Laos.

My wish is that this submission will be an eye opener to the readers. Much help is needed. Many of us have knowledge in different fields. Maybe it's needed to those who can't afford to pay for it. While we travel in Asia it is something we can do.

Stickman's thoughts:

Of course giving to charity and volunteer work are all good things. I have done some volunteer work myself and find it rewarding, although very tiring. I tend not to donate per se as you never quite know what happens to the money, and the cynic in me is scared that a fair chunk is siphoned off.