Chen is a 47-year-old farmer who lives in Kortrackeut village in the Angkor Chum district with his wife Som Pohn and their 15-year-old daughter who goes to the local high school. He was a solider and lost his right leg to a landmine blast in the war decades ago.
Recently, Chen went blind in one eye due to pieces of landmine shrapnel that had been lodged there for years and, in his belief, pesticides in their water supply.
Despite these difficult circumstances, Chen has retained a positive outlook. His village had very little water so he set about digging a well for his community. Chen’s hand-dug well was a great success, providing water for his family, friends and relatives. However, after a few months, due to heavy usage, the well eventually collapsed.
In 2008 Habitat project staff found the caved well that Chen had built and offered to support him in erecting a new cement well. He was provided with materials and technical support while the community members of the Kortrakeut Village agreed to supply the labour.
The new well and irrigation system built by Chen has changed the lives of everyone around him. Health has universally improved in the village, farming is now possible all year round and Chen’s daughter, who previously was going to have to forgo her education to find employment to help support her family, can now finish school.
Chen says, “Since the day I got this well everything has become beautiful. I plant my own vegetables. Since we’ve got this clean water and this toilet we don’t usually get sick like other neighbours. That’s why my family is healthy, the well has changed our life.”