At One Family At A Time we take our work very seriously. We have strong internal systems that befit a much larger organisation (including policies, procedures, risk and quality management systems, strategic plan, program planning frameworks and much more). Our Board and 2 sub committees (Governance plus Fundraising and Communications) work diligently behind the scenes to ensure high quality governance and operations.
We work in close collaboration with our In-Country Coordinator, who meets regularly with Village and Commune Leaders, School and Health Centre staff, local business owners, farmers and of course, the families we work alongside.
One of the key strengths of our organisation is that way in which we plan our programs. We consult, engage, seek feedback, check the evidence and we do this cyclically to ensure we adjust if, and when, we need to.
All our work is informed by, and linked to, the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
We take a “Strengths-based” approach in all our work – recognising and respecting rights of all individuals and communities to self-determination. The Cambodian people are wise, hard-working, resilient, and enormously capable. It is our privilege to know them and to have the opportunity to work alongside of them.
The Moringa tree is found in diverse and harsh landscapes. Where there is torrential rain, lengthy drought, poor soil quality or scorching sun, the Moringa tree unfurls its’ bright clusters of leaves, stretches out its’ roots and thrives. Not enough to survive and grow in environments inhospitable to most, the Moringa enriches its’ surroundings. Often called a ‘miracle tree’, or a ‘tree of life’, the Moringa is used as a water purification system, a nutritious food source, a high-quality timber and a buttress against erosion. The Moringa tree takes so little, and gives generously.
Much like the giving Moringa, in a rural landscape in Cambodia, Grandma Yay laid roots in challenging terrain, nurtures her children, and enriches her community. She has taken the harshness of her circumstances, filtered them through her resolve, her interminable spirit and her joy, and created opportunity for the people that she cares for. Takes little, and gives generously.
While COVID19 has exacerbated the global poverty crisis, human resilience and the determination of care-givers shine bright in dark times. Following ‘Yay Day’ on February 5th, we are continuing to reflect about what it means to have or pursue freedom from poverty. As we reflect, we are drawing on the perpetual strength and power of Grandma Yay, and the journey that she has taken to secure freedom for her three children. We are honoured to know her, and to share parts of her extraordinary journey here.
One of the truly unifying struggles throughout human history has been the fight to be free. Everybody wants to be safe and able to move, to make choices and to have peace. All of the significant movements in human history have been in pursuit of freedom. Individuals and communities have borne and continue to bear tremendous sacrifice and hardship in this search, for themselves and the generations to follow them. The concept of the ‘movement’ is meaningful; as freedom is an act of untethering, it is an act in motion and growth.
Freedom requires opportunity, so there is little possible without first freedom from the confinement of poverty. Poverty is relative, prejudiced and entirely solvable.
Currently, the recognised international ‘poverty line’ is an income of US$1.90 per day, and an estimated 737 million people live on less than this. However, this simplistic understanding does not account for any intervening factors, such as social conditions, local living costs, impact of trade and supply chains, conflict, and debt burdens. So, the population living beneath the poverty line is far higher. Fundamentally, poverty represents conditions in which you are unable to afford the basic elements of life, such as housing, food, medical care and education.
Poverty is not experienced equally throughout global, regional or local populations- it is concentrated by gender and geography. The regions most impacted by poverty are the regions which have experienced overwhelming colonisation, conflict and resource exploitation. The demographic most likely to live in poverty anywhere in the world are women and their children, by a conservative estimate of 20%.
At this challenging intersection, Grandma Yay prevails. Grandma Yay lives in a rural community in Cambodia. Cambodia is a country of tenacity and resolve, overcoming multiple episodes of colonisation, resource exploitation and devastating conflict. So it is unsurprising that Cambodia, in its’ resilience, is one of the poorest countries in the world. Consistent with global patterns of poverty, 80% of Cambodian people live in regional communities just like Grandma Yay, which experience poverty at significantly higher rates than urbanised areas. This is directly associated with diminished access to education and civic infrastructure outside of metropolitan areas.
In this context, Grandma Yay took in three children as her own, to care for, protect, and secure their best possible future. These children, as kind and joyous as Grandma Yay herself, are now fifteen, eight and three years old. A fierce woman, Grandma Yay has for many years worked twelve hour shifts chopping Cassava to be dried and then ground and made into flour. This capacity for hard work ensured the survival of her children. Several years ago, Grandma Yay travelled 90 kilometres from her home and community into Siem Reap, to access urgent medical assistance for one of her children. They slept rough, but safe in Grandma Yay’s strong protectiveness. Grandma Yay was giving all of her food to her children, and eating nothing herself, such is her care. It was here that we came to know Grandma Yay, and have gratefully been learning from her since.
The Cambodian people deserve our deep respect and investment in their ongoing recovery and pursuit of freedom from poverty. Through the late 1990s and into recent years, Cambodia achieved remarkable development success in a short period. This work was enhanced by the ‘Rectangular Strategy- Phase III’, which targeted development efforts towards pro-peace and pro-regional opportunity building, increased NGO engagement, and strengthened institutional capacity. However, the threshold between vulnerability and poverty for Cambodian households is incredibly fragile- a reduction of US$0.30 per day would see previous levels of poverty double. The impact of COVID-19 on a community reliant on tourism and highly regionalised cannot be underestimated.
A five dollar donation to this family means that the US$0.30 threshold can be held at bay. Five dollars helps to keep the children in school, rather than needing to leave their education to pursue employment. It keeps this family together and safe, as accessing employment often means children move far from home. Vitally, it means that Grandma Yay can nurture herself, while she continues to nurture her children. Th world depends fierce, loving women more than ever before- we need to give Grandma Yay the care that she deserves.
Under the shadow of COVID19 and economic contraction, Grandma Yay continues to shine and lead her children towards their best futures. Like a miracle tree, Grandma Yay is a buttress for the children to whom she is devoted, and in turn they are devoted to her. Grandma Yay has spent the past fifteen years pursuing freedom from poverty for her children, intuitively addressing the evidence-based social determinants. Grandma Yay kept them fed through her hard work, she has ensured that they go to school and gain literacy, and she has kept them homed together. This gives these children the absolute best opportunity for a future framed by choice and freedom. This opportunity is the result of Grandma Yay’s years of sacrifice and precarity, pouring every available resource into their care. Under the contraction of COVID19 and Grandma Yay’s advancing age, it is incumbent on us to think about what it means to step up, as Grandma Yay has. We must think about how we contribute, what we do in order to enrich the landscape, and how we encourage freedom.
Inclusivity of people living with a Disability:One Family At A Time celebrates the strengths of every person and recognises that people living with a disability can face additional barriers to participation in their day to day life in Cambodia. Through working with each individual as well as the village and community leaders, One Family At A Time seeks to understand both the strengths and barriers for each individual. We work to advocate for a safe and inclusive environment through which people with a disability are empowered to engage in a meaningful way and participate fully.
Through each of our programs, One Family At A Time seeks to nurture a safe and inclusive approach. Each family participates in a thorough individual assessment which helps us to learn about the needs and skills of each person. Where specialist assessment and support is required, One Family At A Time aims to identify an appropriate service or program and coordinate referral.
Programs such as our small business loans can support people living with a disability to draw on their strengths and skills and empower them to build their independence through development of a business/trade. While elevated housing is generally required due to rising water levels during the wet season, we have also adapted our house and toilet design to enable easy access for a person using a wheelchair in Duon Sva Village.
The following section aims to give readers further insight into our work and priorities.
One of our priority areas is a focus on health and wellbeing – for all. We know that healthy lives and a sense of wellbeing are essential for sustainable development through positively impacting on life expectancy, child and maternal mortality, and illness and disease prevention and management.
Improved sanitation, maternal and child health, illness prevention and management (such as mosquito borne diseases, diabetes, hepatitis and HIV), reproductive health, and dental hygiene and treatment are all areas where we work collaboratively with local authorities to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.
The Cambodian people enjoy fresh air, sport, and beautiful fresh vegetables and fruit. Our work often focusses on ensuring that access to healthcare, dental care, nutrition, support, and education is equitable and that we leave ‘no-one behind’ due to barriers such as socio-economic factors, gender, education, or geography.
OFAAT Director, Bec Jackson is the lead for this Priority Area and can be contacted on email@example.com to discuss any ideas or offers of support.
Supporting Infection Control in Cambodia – a nurse’s reflection
For a several years OFAAT have been working closely with a small health care centre utilised by many of the communities we support. Every time we visit, we are greeted by a team of dedicated nurses who have become familiar faces. They have a small team lead by a director, and despite only having a few staff members, they manage to provide round the clock care to many communities and villages in the area, being a primary maternal health centre and handling a vast number of different health conditions, from road accidents to severe infections and illnesses. They have very limited resources but do an incredible job with what they do have at their disposal, often needing to think outside the box to utilise what they have. An example of this that I love is scales to weigh newborn babies being fashioned from a washing basket!
Being a nurse in Australia, visiting Samroang Yea Health Centre, in Pouk District, I am always reminded how fortunate I am to have all the resources and equipment I need in abundance to allow me to do my job every time I go to work. This is a luxury the staff providing healthcare in Cambodia do not have. Their supplies are very limited, and they often rely on donations for essential medical equipment.
On one of our first visits to Samroang Yea Health Centre, we were given a tour by the director of the centre to establish how the centre operates, and how we could support them in their provision of care to local residents. We were shown the room where most of the patients are treated and there were a couple of patients laying on the wooden hospital beds at the time. We were told that one of the patients was being treated for vomiting and diarrhoea, and the other patient, who was lying about a metre away (on the same bed) had just recently given birth. It was difficult to comprehend how these two patients could be sharing a room and be lying in such proximity, when the risk of a new Mum and / or baby contracting a gastrointestinal infection would be catastrophic. Due to the centre being so small and having limited space, this room is the only area for patients to be treated and the staff had no way of keeping patients separated to prevent transmission of infection.
One of the next things we did was raise money to provide hospital beds, mattresses, and linen so that patients could have their own bed and even be moved out to an undercover area outside in the case of infectious patients.
Another visit to Siem Reap we were fortunate to be given a tour of another rural hospital. During a discussion around their available resources, the staff there explained to us that they did have some disposable gloves that had been donated to them, but in order to make them last and not run out of their supply, they had been re-using these between patients.
This concept seemed quite alarming to me, as the fundamentals of hand hygiene are one of the first topics taught to health care professionals during their education in Australia, but it is not always possible to prioritise this in Cambodia. I cannot imagine a situation where supplies of crucial resources are so scarce that re-using something that is disposable for good reason is perceived as the only option.
Nurses who are qualified and have completed university degrees or tertiary training are hard to come by in Cambodia, and as a result, staff who are less qualified and have received quite basic training in Cambodia are relied on to support those with more advanced training in order to provide 24 hour care. Often these staff are exposed to challenges their training has not prepared them for. In their clinical practice they have such limited resources and often need to improvise, ration, or simply go without the equipment they need to care for patients. Without the ability to adequately sanitise their hands and their equipment, and often being unable to provide hygiene care to their patients, the risk of spreading infection becomes a very sinister prospect.
In the last few years we have worked with the health centre to provide bathroom facilities including a shower (which they previously did not have), a kitchen to safely and hygienically prepare food, a washing machine (for white coats worn by staff and for bed linen etc), washing powder, hand soap and hand sanitiser, and educational resources for the staff to enhance their knowledge of hygiene principles and infection control techniques.
Simple hand hygiene is the most crucial element of infection control and is essential to protect the health centres most vulnerable patients. With increased knowledge on the importance of quality hygiene practices and improved access to resources to facilitate this, health care facilities in Cambodia can hopefully decrease transmission of infections and reduce associated complications.
If you are able to donate funds to purchase essential supplies in Cambodia or have spare (in-date) medical supplies (such as bandages, simple dressings, surgical scissors and the like) we would love to hear from you!
You might also be keen to come to volunteer your professional services in Cambodia on one of our Volunteer Trips.
Written by Bec Jackson, Bachelor of Nursing
We know, from anecdotal feedback from the families we work with, and numerous articles written by respected agencies, that access to affordable, fresh, nutritious and locally grown produce (such as rice, fish, chicken and vegetables) is extremely difficult for many families in Cambodia.
Our work often focusses on food and wellbeing – we buy all produce from fresh local markets and farmers and buy Cambodian grown produce wherever possible.
One of the other areas we focus on is supporting and encouraging breast feeding (where appropriate and possible) along with good maternal nutrition and water intake. Our First 1000 Days Program is an evidence-based program focussing on maternal and infant health and wellbeing from conception to the child’s 2nd birthday. We know that “the first 1000 days lasts a lifetime” – to read more, see First 1000 Days Program info here
As always, our work is informed by Village and Commune Leaders, families we work alongside and, of course, the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Click here for more information on Health and Wellbeing as a Sustainable Development Goal
Click here for more information on Zero Hunger as a Sustainable Development Goal
Click here for more information on Reduced Inequalities as a Sustainable Development Goal
Education is key to escaping poverty. Enrolment rates, length of enrolment and access to education for all, especially girls are all areas where we focus our effort and resources.
Coupled with increasing and sustaining enrolment, is a focus on ensuring access to nutrition – for energy and brain development.
And coupled with a focus on enrolment and nutrition, is supporting students to access school materials – we support students from lower socio-economic groups with essential school supplies and materials, school bags and school uniforms. We also supply bicycles to reduce the time taken to walk to and from school, which also supports better attendance.
Our programs, such as Rice Scholarships, have an attendance measure as a pre-requisite for the program.
Click here for more on our Rice Scholarships program.
For many years we have distributed reusable feminine hygiene kits made by Days For Girls Yarra Valley Chapter, and we are really proud of this partnership. Over the course of the partnership, more than 1100 sanitary hygiene kits were donated to high school students, new mums and working women in rural areas of Cambodia.
In January 2022, due to increased demand for these essential products along with challenges in getting the kits to Cambodia, we developed a new program called “Srey Period Packs”. These packs contain washable pads, underwear and soap – all in a discreet fabric bag.
In the future, our goal is to have the women from our SEW FARE – Social Enterprise make these in Cambodia. Not only will these kits prevent girls and women from missing school and work due to a lack of period products, but it will also create sustainable employment for the women of SEW FARE.
In addition, we support schools and kindergartens with classroom facilities such as installing electricity, ceiling fans, whiteboards, IT equipment and library books.
OFAAT Director, Tori Jackson is the lead for this Priority Area and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any ideas or offers of support.
Children are naturally curious, right from birth, they are watching and feeling, listening, and exploring. Play is a powerful and important activity. It positively influences children’s social, physical, emotional, and cognitive development.
The best learning happens when children play, and we know that it is important to let children play every day. Children will find many things to play with inside and outside the home, whether it is playing dress ups, building with blocks, singing songs, telling stories, playing with containers or having fun outside with sand and water – play can and should be built into everyday routines and activities. Play-based learning environments encourage talking, reading, thinking, and writing.
In our work in Cambodia we focus heavily on improving access to quality education. We work closely with our outstanding partners in Cambodia, in particular, school, and health centres. We focus our efforts to align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals SDGs.
Some of the ways One Family At A Time supports play-based learning in Cambodia include:
For more information on play see www.levelplayground.org.au
If you have good quality, preloved, lightly used toys such as blocks (e.g. Lego), small baby toys, sporting equipment such as balls and skipping ropes and wooden puzzles, that you’d like to donate, we’d love to hear from you!
English ClassesAspire – Supporting Girls Through Education has been running successfully for several years with a group of 20 students (15 girls and 5 boys) receiving a range of comprehensive supports.
English classes are a key feature as it is well understood that having English language will greatly increase employment opportunities in the future, for these students. One Family At A Time employs a qualified English teach who is Cambodian.
Click here for more information on Quality Education as a Sustainable Development Goal:
Click here for more information on Gender Equality as a Sustainable Development Goal
Click here for more information on Reduced Inequalities as a Sustainable Development Goal
Our third priority area relates to employment – reliability, predictability, and regularity of employment along with decent rates of pay are all factors influencing one’s economic participation and areas where we focus effort and resources. Economic participation and independence for women is a key priority for One Family At A Time. We know that the evidence shows clearly that if a woman is healthy and well and able to earn a decent wage, then the whole family and broader community will benefit.
Another program we deliver is in conjunction with Days For Girls Yarra Valley Chapter). Feminine hygiene kits are distributed to women of reproductive age to support opportunities to attend work. This is also accompanied by sexual and reproductive health education from qualified volunteers and local experts.
For more information on Days For Girls click here.
OFAAT Director, Jenny Jackson is the lead for this Priority Area and can be contacted on email@example.com to discuss any ideas or offers of support.
Social Enterprises:About 4 years ago we started a sewing school and employed an experienced Cambodian sewing teacher. This group is now proudly known as SEW FARE – Social Enterprise.
The group started sewing by hand to start with and learnt maths along the way. This was a great reminder for us of the value of education – you cannot sew to a pattern of cut fabric to a pattern if you don’t have basic maths skills.
Nowadays, the women of SEW FARE – social enterprise sew a beautiful range of items which are sold inour online shop and at various outlets in Cambodia, such as Babel Eco Shop and Peace Café – both in Siem Reap.
We welcome support from volunteers who contribute to teaching additional sewing techniques and patterns each year. If you are keen to help, please don’t hesitate to let us know!
Another of our successful social enterprises is Branching Out.This social venture sees passionate gardeners grow trees which we buy from them at fair prices. Not only does this program support income for the growers and their families, it contributes to the environment and climate also. Additionally, the Moringa trees grown by Branching Out growers are abundant in nutritional value and used widely in SE Asia. We highly recommend you try Moringa Tea – Delicious and nutritious! Over the years we have planted several hundred trees because of this innovative program!
Click here for more information on Decent Work and Economic Growth as a Sustainable Development Goal
Our fourth and equally important priority area involves the building of toilets, installation of water supplies and building housing.
According to the United Nations, worldwide, one in three people do not have access to safe drinking water, two out of five people do not have a basic hand-washing facility with soap and water, and more than 673 million people still practice open defecation.
We are really proud to have built dozens of houses, toilets, wells, and water supplies in many areas of Cambodia and are committed to continuing this important work.
John Galletti designed the “OFAAT Signature House” in 2017 and it is now very recognisable as our “brand” in the villages where we work. The houses are made predominantly from steel (contributing to longevity of the building structure, as well as protecting forests from harvesting of precious trees). The OFAAT Signature House has opening, lockable, glass doors and windows, guttering for fresh rainwater collection and many other features. The houses are enormously popular, and we have a ‘waiting list’ for future building.
We only build houses for families once Village and Commune Leaders have given their approval. Approval for a house to be built involves the community leaders verifying land ownership and receiving a commitment from the family to live without family violence, to avoid problem gambling, alcohol and drug use and to ensure that the children attend school. The families are supported to achieve these goals, through regular contact with community leaders in addition to our In-Country Coordinator.
We have a team of builders who produce high quality workmanship and who are paid decent wages by OFAAT for their work. We encourage local builders to assist with the building and pay them for their work also.
OFAAT Director, Jenny Jackson is the lead for this Priority Area and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any ideas or offers of support.
Click here for more information on Clean Water and Sanitation as a Sustainable Development Goal
Working with partners on the Prevention of Violence Against Women and Children- This is a new priority area for One Family At A Time and we look forward to sharing our programs and initiatives with you soon.
Supporting women and children who are responding to family violence – This is a new priority area for One Family At A Time and we look forward to sharing our programs and initiatives with you soon.
“I love the work of this small grass roots charity. It is really making a significant and lasting impact on the communities and families in the areas where they (OFAAT) work”
– STEVE, ONE FAMILY AT A TIME VOLUNTEER