>Mill Family Helps Provide Clean Water to Cambodian Village


Photo: From left, Annie, Tim, Taylor and Beth Emanuels, at their Mill Valley home, were inspired to help the people of Cambodia after visiting the country.
(Special to the IJ/Thomas K. Sorensen)
11/24/2007Jim StaatsMarin Independent Journal (Marin County, California, USA)
AS THE HOLIDAY season of giving revs up, a Mill Valley family remains dedicated to a philanthropic effort a world away.Tim Emanuels said a vacation to view the temples of Cambodia resulted in a united family front helping build wells of safe drinking water for people of the kingdom’s rural regions.”It started when my wife and I and my daughter went to Cambodia two years ago,” said Emanuels, an executive with Morgan Stanley. “Our tour guide was facilitating the building of wells with Western dollars. We started it out on a small scale.”The family now serves as international conduit for a humanitarian program that has built more than 100 wells set to serve several hundred villagers for years to come.
Villagers use a completed well (center) north of Siem Reap City. (Provided by the Emanuels family)Emanuels said a single well purchase grew to include Christmas presents for friends and family in the form of funding for other Cambodian wells.”We bought several more for Christmas presents and started to scale it from there,” he said, noting the involvement of daughter Annie, 14, and son Taylor, 18, after a follow-up visit this year helped jump-start the project.”My daughter built a Web site to formalize the process, then Taylor got involved helping her design and build it,” he said. “Since then, Taylor has really taken and run with it.”Taylor, a senior at University High School in San Francisco, does project marketing and publicity while Annie handles administration.”We really just sort of made an attachment to the country, saw the level of poverty and wanted to do something to help,” said Taylor Emanuels.The Southeast Asian kingdom is one of the world’s least developed countries, with residents of rural regions surviving on subsistence farming. Access to clean, bacteria-free water for these families is often unattainable; water-borne illnesses including typhoid, cholera and diarrhea are responsible for more than half of the deaths in the country.
Workers lay bricks for the well s foundation after the pump has been put in place. (Provided by the Emanuels family)Taylor said it was pure happenstance that the family’s hotel referred them to tour guide Nhean Samban (referred to by his tourist clients as “Sam Brothers”) on their initial visit to Siem Reap, the second-largest city in Cambodia.”The family asked Sam what to do to help, and he said there is a thing he started to build wells for $250,” said Taylor, noting the family was skeptical but purchased a well.
A well provides water for 15 monks living in a Buddhist temple in Peak Sneng Chas Village. (Provided by the Emanuels family)”When we got home, we paid for it, then got a picture of the well and the family it was helping,” he said. “We just loved the idea of what we were doing.”A $250 outlay finances the building of a well by a local construction company and short-term observation of the site in case problems arise. Wells, dug 30 feet deep to prevent water-borne diseases, are built either one per family or several per village; each well provides water for 10 to 15 people for 15 to 20 years, according to Emanuels.To date, about 110 wells have been built or are in the process of being built through the project, with orders for about 40 more.
Well construction is shown in the early stages. (Provided by the Emanuels family)”We became (Sam’s) official contact within the U.S.,” Taylor said. “When people come over there, he tells them about us and gives our family as reference. We’ve had people calling us from all over the world who visited Sam as a tour guide.”Tim Emanuels added: “What we’re finding is (Sam) will speak to somebody in Cambodia who wants to talk to somebody who has done due diligence.”He said a visit back to the region by all family members last June, which included a tour of some of the 40 wells built at that time and visits with families, satisfied concerns.”In addition to doing our own fundraising in the states, it’s definitely a trusting thing,” Tim Emanuels said. “There is not an organization like the Red Cross to monitor this. That’s why we’re keeping it small-scale right now.”Though small in scale, the Emanuels are not alone.”There are a lot of private situations like that,” said Nay Meang, deputy chief of mission at the Cambodian Embassy in Washington, D.C.”People that went to Cambodia as tourists and learn about the needs for people in rural areas come back to their country and they have sympathy to help the Cambodian people,” Meang said, noting rural drinking water is a nationwide problem that is a priority for the government.He said the problem is being addressed through multiple channels including nongovernment organizations, different charities and private efforts of people living abroad like the Emanuels.”The nature of this is so boot-strap,” said Tim Emanuels. “The simplicity of it is the beauty of it.”THE WELL PROJECT

For more information about the Cambodian Well Project, visit web.mac.com/aemanuels
source: Ki-Media
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