Poverty misconceptions

A village in Kos Sla, northern Kampot Province. Photo by Don Bosco Kep Children Fund, January 2014.

A village in Kos Sla, northern Kampot Province. Photo by Don Bosco Kep Children Fund, January 2014.

Visitors from developed countries can get impressed by the simplicity of the Cambodian rural families. Such impression can lead to confusions of what is poverty and it is often profit by certain individuals for the embezzlement of funds. Donors have the duty to guarantee that their funds will reach the real needs of vulnerable people and thus it is important to learn the meaning of concepts like poverty, as well as to improve the methods to fight it in an authentic effective way. To measure the social impact of any project is as much as important as planning. 

Cambodian people, even in urban centers, are simple in their way of life and it is a great virtue, not a social disaster. A Cambodian house has very often what is essential and very few furniture. Instead to create fake needs, Western societies should learn this simplicity from Cambodia.

It challenges the concept of poverty many persons have in their mind of consumerism. it is rather a pity to see in the modern Cambodian television a tendency to impose a Western Cambodian housing with luxury, showing it as the correct way to live, with white-Chinese-type Cambodians living like in a New York’s chalet, while portraying rural Cambodians as jungle uncivilized people. Such tendency is supported by some organizations promoting such consumerism and damaging the simple Cambodian social values.

Essentially, poverty is measured by four factors: the lack of services such as electricity and drinkable water; the difficulty to access to health attention and thus putting in risk the lives of children, mothers and elderly; unemployment or a very low level of financial income and the impossibility for children and youth to access education. Withing this framework of  poverty, there is not matter if the house is made of wood or concrete, if the family has or not a car or if there are beds or the they sleep in hammocks.

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About Albeiro Rodas

Albeiro Rodas (in Cambodia Sky Ly Samnang), is a MA in Digital Communication, independent journalist and a Salesian of Don Bosco from Amalfi, Colombia, based in Cambodia since 1999. He is the creator of the Don Bosco schools of journalism in Sihanoukville and Kep with young people from poor communities and the founder of the Don Bosco Kep Children Fund. Medal for Social Commitment UPB (2010); among the 100 more upstanding Colombians abroad (Marca Colombia, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X39xwdGtVXI) and among the 12 Colombians that are making this a better world 2013 (http://www.colombia.co/en/culture/colombians-that-are-making-this-a-better-world.html).

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