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Seeds of Hope: Cambodia
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Seeds of Hope: Cambodia
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Some food-insecure Cambodian villagers survive on one meal a day for up to six months a year. HEKS, a Switzerland-based Protestant aid organization, is providing Cambodian farmers with low-interest seed loans, setting up seed banks, and creating nutrition programs. The farmers now pay only five to ten percent interest on their seeds, compared to over 240 percent before, and have diversified their crops.
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Directed by Sarah Hesterman.

Originally featured in the ViewChange Online Film Contest.

Find out more about HEKS-Swiss Interchurch Aid.

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Segment 1

TITLE
HEKS Cambodia Program, Kampot Province, Cambodia
VOICEOVER
In rural Cambodia, food security remains a distant goal. More than 84 percent of the population lives in poverty. The villagers rely entirely on agriculture to sustain them, but few can afford seeds or farming tools. Poor health, malnutrition, inadequate housing, and illiteracy are constant.
LOT MIRANDA [Country Director, Cambodia Program, HEKS-Swiss Interchurch Aid] Like any poverty and hunger-stricken village, they have really nowhere else to can go but relying on what they can get in the village. Definitely, in these food insecure villages, entire populations go one meal a day for up to six months during the year. >> VOICEOVER
Despite these conditions, the HEKS Cambodia program is making great strides through a community-based approach in 68 rural villages. Two specific initiatives, the Rice Seed Credit Bank and the Health and Nutrition Resource Improvement Campaign, vastly improve food security in these villages by helping people to provide for themselves. Before HEKS' involvement, farmers in this village had to pay as much as 240 percent interest on rice seeds purchased at the beginning of each planting season. Faced with no option but to pay this high interest rate to local lenders, farmers found themselves further and further in debt.
LOT MIRANDA
This specific project is about Rice Seed Credit Bank. It is about supplying sufficient and appropriate seeds to the farmers during the planting season.
VOICEOVER
The rice bank lends seeds to farmers at the beginning of the planting season. At harvest time, the farmers will return the seeds plus interest of five to ten percent, 20 times less than the paid before the project began. With adequate supply of seeds, the farmers tend to their land for the planting season. This season, they will be able to produce enough rice to feed their families plus save enough to pay back their loan. The Health and Nutrition Resource Improvement Campaign is another aspect of HEKS' Cambodia program. Nutrition officers work with villagers to provide education and skills training. Villagers attend classes on nutrition, where they learn to grow vegetables to help counter various health problems. The women in the Nutrition Improvement Campaign have had a significant effect on the health and well being of their families, and they've learned skills, which let them continue to have an impact, locally and independently. HEKS' Cambodia program has worked by providing education and resources to help villagers improve their lives on their own.
LOT MIRANDA
I would say, compared to the time we started, there is more food, but to that they're food secure is a long way to go. I mean, so much misery, poverty, and hunger -- something can be done, and things can become better, slowly, and I hope it can get faster.