Zero Waste & Recycling Program Implemented in the Community-Based EcoTourism (CBET) Village of Chi Phat, Cambodia May 2014 & September 2015 - By Della Barbato
May 17, 2014. Program founder Sophany Touch, CBET Project Coordinator of Wildlife Alliance, invites me to his home in Phnom Penh for dinner with his family.
*Be sure to hit the "PREVIOUS" button at the bottom to continue. This blog is shown in chronological order. Calendar dates in upper left corner are for blogging order only. See actual dates in captions. Enjoy!
Della's travel provided by a grant from Partnering for Stronger Communities Grants Program which is funded by the United States Government's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and implemented by International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX).
Presentations at the US Embassy
May 20. On Monday, May 19, Sophany Touch and I arrived at a scheduled meeting at the US Embassy. Jessica Lane of Community Solutions Program (CSP) had taken ill, so the first question Mr. John Simmons asked was if we could fill in for her the following day to present her CSP presentation. Twenty Eight potential candidates were traveling from all over Cambodia to get information about the CSP Program, which Sophany had taken part the previous fall, 2013. We said yes! Mr. Simmons then asked if I would present my recycling presentation as well. What an honor and an opportunity.
Sophany and I had to change our travel plans to Chi Phat in order to accommodate filling in for Jessica, but it was well worth it. I did well on both presentations, and enjoyed doing them. First I presented Jessica's CSP Program. The candidates asked many questions, most of which Sophany answered. Mr. Uy went over the program application procedure. Sophany then talked about his application process and experience in Houston. Last, I gave my recycling presentation.
May 21. The Goal of the program is to improve the solid waste management system within the Chi Phat CBET environment by increasing community awareness and participation towards waste reduction, recycling and a litter-free environment. Sophany set up his laptop and projector using solar power, as city power is out from 11am to 5pm. He showed a film clip of the dangers of plastic trash in Cambodia. Then I presented my recycling presentation. It was well received by the community.
When our presentations were completed, the villagers began discussing the plan. This sounded like yelling to me, but they had valid concerns and questions. Then Mr. Van Sophon, a member of the Commune Council, got up and announced to the community that it would be in everyone's interest if the ecotourism village were littter-free. I almost cried. It was that easy. He then thanked me for coming.
I led the community members in a fun and educational activity called Every Tree For Itself from the Project Learning Tree environmental education curriculum guide. Each member pretends they are a tree in a forest, and hence, cannot move their feet. Then they have to grab the limited natural resources of water, sun and nutrients (seen as colored chips) before their fellow trees do. There are not enough resources to support the human forest, which mimicks a natural forest.
The Community Based Ecotourism village of Chi Phat is comprised of a committee and members who hold positions in support of tourism and conservation efforts raising money for the village.
Chhay Kpos waterfalls, one of the stops along the trail.
May 22. Sophany and I facilitate a Teacher Training for the 2 local schools in Chi Phat. When I discovered that the planned teacher workshop had been cancelled due to lack of funds, I offered to donate their day's salary. Ten teachers plus the 2 principals from the primary and secondary schools participated.
After the climate change and recycling presentations, we facilitated activities from Project Learning Tree's environmental education curriculum: Every Tree for Itself and Looking at Leaves.
Last we registered the schools as GreenSchools! on the Project Learning Tree national website. The teachers and principals were then certified as Project Learning Tree facilitators.
May 23. Sophany and I facilitate Zero Waste and Recycling presentations to the 6th then 9th grade students in their classrooms. As two former teachers, we had a great time presenting to the students and fulfilling our passion. We discovered that we worked very well together.
Mr. Ouk Sen is my translator.
From the Project Learning Tree Pre-K Through 8 Activity Guide, Looking at Leaves: Each student is asked to collect 5 leaves from the school grounds.
Students are then divided into large groups and asked to sort all of thier leaves based on leaf characteristics of their choosing.
A spokesman from each group is asked to explain to the rest of the class what leaf characteristics their group used to sort the leaves.
Students then create art with an impression of several leaves of their choosing on white paper using crayons - Leaf Rubbing Activity. These PLT activities are designed to connect the participants to nature.
The students are proud of their leaf art.
Sophany creates a waste sorting activity for the students to practice sorting trash: plastic bottles, other plastic, cans and organic waste. All of the material was litter on the school grounds.
I facilitate Every Tree For Itself.
I facilitate another Project Learning Tree activity: Tree Factory. Students are asked to name a part of a tree, roots, trunk, branches, etc. then "act" out that part together as a single tree for the rest of the class. Two beetles attack the tree.
Saturday, May 24. Eight 9th Grade Chi Phat students and one young community member are assembled and meet for the first time in the CBET meeting room. These are the Chi Phat Green Ambassadors and are our sustainability factor. Green Ambassadors are part of the GreenSchools Program of Project Learning Tree. This group is excited to do projects together and to keep their village recycling and litter free. They will keep the fire burning long after we are gone.
Vanak shows the Green Ambassadors the potted flower plant that he made from a 2 liter plastic bottle and broken flip flop shoes. This demonstrates reusing and serves as art for his tourist bungalows. Sophany showed a video of bottle brick construction in India where plastic bottles are filled with local dirt and used as bricks to build a school. We also discussed how plastic bottles can be used to build a raft. Perfect as the village of Chi Phat is on the river and is an important mode of transportation.
We divided the Green Ambassadors into 2 groups and tasked them to make decorative mobiles from litter they found on the ground and some colored paper. They proudly present their mobiles. We then set the ambassadors up with an email account and facebook page: Chi Phat Green Ambassadors. One of the goals is to connect them with Houston's East End Green Ambassadors so that the two student organizations can communicate, gain ideas from each other and keep current on their activities.
The local long-tailed maquaque pays a visit to our meeting.
The Chi Phat Green Ambassadors, Sophany Touch and myself.
Kouprey Express Community Night Show - Wildlife Alliance - Visits the Village of Chi Phat
May 28. From their website: "The Community Night Shows are outreach events that raise awareness about wildlife protection to the general public. Interactive games, videos, puppet shows, and music are used to illustrate important environmental principles. They are well received by the communities hosting them, and many travel miles from neighboring villages to attend.
At the end of the show, a Q&A is held to test their understanding of wildlife protection.
T-shirts and first aid kits were awarded to participants who could correctly answer these questions." Many of our GreenSchools Green Ambassadors won a T-shirt.
May 29. With Sophany's brilliance, he organized an event to include the entire Chi Phat community to take part in waste collection and recycling. In this way, the villagers will own the concept of Chi Phat to be a litter-free village. The event started with the Chi Phat Commune Chief, Mr. Meong Sophea, and other CBET Council Officials each saying a few words to the crowd of 100+ villagers.
Sophany moderates the event and the Chi Phat Green Ambassadors are introduced. They will lead the waste collection.
Mrs. Ohm Nee. She gave me this hat to protect my face from the sun. Disregarding her own face, she would not take no for an answer. This hat sheilded my face from sun, rain and branches the rest of my trip in Cambodia. Thank you grandma!
Gloves and bags are passed out, and participating villagers are divided into 2 groups to collect litter in both directions on the main street.
Every half mile for 2 miles a sorting station was set up where the Green Ambassadors direct the villager's bags of litter to be emptied sorted into larger bags of waste and recycleable material.
The main road after the event. Absolutely beautiful.
A happy clean up crew!
Saturday, May 31. The Green Ambassadors met on a Saturday and built 2 sets of recycle bins; one at the primary school and one at the secondary school. The net will be used both as a bin and as a transport bag once the bin is full.
Rope is woven around the outside of the net for edge support, then the corners are nailed into posts that have been dug into the ground. That is the primary school principal on the right nailing with a rock.
The finished product with the Green Ambassadors - recycling is happening in Chi Phat. My heart filled with pure pride. One side is for plastic bottles and the other for all other plastic. The plastic bottles may be reused or recycled. We talked about filling them with dirt and making bottle bricks. These can be used to construct any building. They can also be used to make a raft, handy since Chi Phat sits on a river.
Young children stop playing to be the first to pick up litter around the school yard and place material in their new recycle bin. The next feeling that came over me was pure joy.
Several Green Ambassadors show off thier new organizers, one of the perks of becoming a Green Ambassador.
Della Barbato has been an informal environmental educator since 2006.