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Heifer International helps its participants in many ways,but one thing we generally don’t take on is emergency aid. Groups like the RedCross are much more capable of organizing that kind of operation. But occasionally,when our projects are harmed by big natural disasters and we find ourselves inthe best position to assist, Heifer can help get people back on their feet.

Right now in Cambodia, Heifer International is bringingmuch-needed food aid to families affected by recent flooding. With funding fromthe World Food Program (WFP), Heifer is distributing food to 1,101 families,including many who were not current participants in Heifer projects.

Riem Kei and her children, from Kandol Village
The flooding in Southeast Asia during the rainy seasonkilled more than a thousand people and affected about 9 million more. Accordingto a rapid assessment in Cambodia, 967 Heifer project families were seriouslyaffected by the flood. They lost their animals, their rice paddies weredestroyed and 14 houses were damaged.

“Helping poor and vulnerable people is our priority. Wewere so sad to see the people whose living conditions had just beenimproved through our projects be devastated by the floods that almost washedaway their hope,” said Heifer Cambodia director Keang Keo. “Our staff is veryhappy to see their smiles return through this wonderful partnership with WFP.”

The first of several distributions was held in threeseparate locations in December and included education on hygiene andsanitation, so that flood victims can preserve their health after thefloodwaters recede. Each flood-affected family received rice, canned fish, vegetableoil, and high nutrition biscuits. The food will meet the immediate nutritionalneeds of vulnerable households.

36-year-old Heifer project participant Riem Kei saw herfamily’s tiny rice plot destroyed by the flooding, along with her home gardenand most of the family’s chickens. Kei has had to borrow money from herneighbor for food. Her family also has had flood-related health problems,including fever and diarrhea.

“I would like to express my gratitude to Heifer and the WFPfor providing me this food assistance,” Kei said. “I can feed my whole familyfor two weeks with this amount of food.”

The assistance, totaling about $165,000 in food aid, willcontinue to be distributed through February 2012.

Author

Kelly MacNeil