World Vision stayed in Cambodia and, in the following five years, carried out various relief and development activities. This included building the National Paediatric Hospital, constructing schools, sponsoring children, building housing units for refugees, remodelling and staffing medical clinics, conducting emergency feeding and distribution programmes for refugees and holding leadership-training seminars for the Khmer Evangelical Church.
During this time, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge forces continued to widen their control over the countryside. Refugees flooded into Phnom Penh seeking shelter and protection. In April 1975, World Vision conducted Operation Lovelift, transporting food into the capital city from Bangkok and Los Angeles. Phnom Penh needed 750 tons of food each day to support its surging population.
Cambodian and expatriate staff continued to serve until the siege of Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge in April 1975. Subsequently, all expatriates and several national staff member were evacuated. All WV programmes ended. The Deputy Director of World Vision in Cambodia, Minh Tien Voan, elected to stay and was later killed.
In 1979 World Vision re-entered Cambodia with the Vietnamese overthrow of the Khmer Rouge. Only 3 of the original 270 World Vision staff members survived the genocidal Khmer Rouge reign.
The initial focus of World Vision's return to Cambodia included meeting emergency needs, assisting in restoring social services, rehabilitating the food producing sectors of the economy and restoring the National Paediatric Hospital which had been used as a torture and execution centre for political prisoners by the Khmer Rouge.
Challenges and Poverty
After many years of war, Cambodia slowly emerges from its turbulent past. Like many developing countries, Cambodia is struggling to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) signed by the international community.
Though Cambodians are some of the hardest working people, many parents struggle to earn an income and are distressed that they don’t have enough resources to provide food, education, and housing for their families.
Though the economy has an average growth of 6.4% in the 2000s, it is not sufficient to meet the needs of 14.8 million people (UN 2005). More than 50% of whom are 20 years old or younger.
With most of the economic growth happening in the cities, the remaining 75% of the population still engages in subsistence farming.
More opportunities in the cities lure many families to leave their home in the rural areas and migrate to the cities. Rapid urbanization is creating additional social problems that increase children’s vulnerabilities.
To date, the population still has little education and almost no productive skills. The literacy level for female is 61.1% and 82.9% for male (NSDP 2003-2005).
A Brighter Future
With smiles on their faces, Cambodian families continue to keep their faith in a better tomorrow. Despite many obstacles, children are showing the way by helping their parents to build a future for their families, leading by advocating for their communities and their country to develop a culture of peace.
We thank you for caring about the people of Cambodia. Whether you are an individual, donor, sponsors, prayer partner, international supporter, donor government, multilateral agency or local partner, your contribution provides valuable encouragement to our communities. Your support enables us to bring about transformation in the lives of children, their families, their communities, and their country.