Wednesday, May 26, 2010

RU Service Project

Today we spent the day building a composting toilette for a local village the project is supported by Husk which is an NGO created by Anthony and Fiona who run The Villa where we stay. They have already built water filtration systems in several locations are are now building toilettes. The problem is that the ones they have are a bit like a French Drain which allows liquids to leech through the ground and into the water system and fields. The net effect is the presence of things like Typhoid and Cholera. Also, when people go out in the fields flies land on the smelly green stuff and then on something like food which transports these diseases. These diseases continue to be a problem there.

The project works like this. Families are asked to place rubbish, which is everywhere, into rubbish containers provided by Husk and emptied by them three days a week. Families who participate get a water filtration system for their well; Husk builds the toilettes as well. If families stay with the program and use the filtration system (systems cost $45 for anybody who wants to have one built) they can then get a composting toilette. Interestingly, women without husbands tend to be early adopters (Everett Roger's Diffusion of Innovation Theory) while many men tend to be laggards. Husk hopes that as success becomes apparent more and more families will participate and the adoption rate (S-Curve) will increase. Like the water boiling case study in Roger's book (the students know this work, at least grad students are aware) not everyone sees the inherent benefits and cling to traditional ways.

 These are pictures of Radford University students laying brick for the toilette seat and composting part and another student (Mark Patterson) digging a trench (Dr. Kennan did help quite a lot despite what Mr. Grogan may tell you) where we built a collection tank for filtered liquids.

Cambodia may be becoming my favorite place, particularly Siem R and the less urban areas, because there is so much to see and do and because it's a place where you can dig in and help people who need the help and appreciate. The smiles are genuine here. Cambodian people are truly wonderful people. For my money if this isn't learning of the highest and most important kind and well worth university support, I don't know what is. I could see it in the faces of the students. They knew.

We will rest tonight and the on to Phnom Penh tomorrow via bus.

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