You might be thinking why Cambodia? Well, here is a little lesson on Cambodia’s modern history.
From 1975-1979, Cambodia was torn apart from its highest governmental levels all the way down to the foundation of the family. The brutal Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, murdered over 30% of Cambodia’s population targeting the aged, educated and professional classes of society. Their goal was an agrarian society that could easily be controlled and their means were genocide and displacement of the population from the cities to the rural provinces. The Khmer Rouge divided children from their parents in order to re-educate a new class in their controlling brutality.In 1979, the Vietnamese army defeated the Khmer Rouge thus sending them into hiding in the jungles near the Thai-Cambodian border. The Vietnamese army occupied Cambodia until 1989 – years of warfare brought fear, instability and more death to the Cambodian people. Democracy was restored in 1993 with a power sharing deal between two major political parties – one led by the Prime Minister and the other led by the royal family. Generally, there has been peace since the 1990’s with the only exception being election related violence. Only now, in 2008, are those responsible for the genocide known as “the killing fields” being brought to trial.
Because of the tragic history over 50% of the population is under the age of 20, and less than 10% of the population is in skilled labor! Some other statistics on why we have a desire to help those living in Cambodia:
- 35% of the population live on less than $0.34 per day
- The average annual income is $300 and 75% of employment is in agriculture
- Literacy is at 74% (ranked 134th out of 179)
- Only 5% of high school teachers have actually obtained a high school diploma