Into the wild… with Wildlife Alliance

This is a photo and video account of my day with Wildlife Alliance in Cambodia… I was able to visit 2 of Wildlife Alliance’s projects: preventing illegal poaching through ranger patrol and re-foresting destroyed land while empowering and educating local citizens on the importance of protecting and living off of the environment. It was an exciting visit facilitated by knowledgable, committed, and passionate staff.

The Wildlife Alliance bus for youth program to environmental awareness and animal protection activities such as the animal rescue rehabilitation center.

I received a formal full-military salute and welcome to the Ranger facilities. Currently the patrol stations are strategically placed along the water transport and road transport areas, but with increased control, those who are willing to break the law are trying to find creative ways to avoid the authority of Wildlife Alliance.

 

Confiscated motorbikes from poachers –  for example when they are caught taking out a protected wood that is worth a LOT on the market … risking class 1 misdemeanor and thrown into jail immediately.

Confiscated trappings

The Rangers and Me – I asked one of the rangers what brought him to Wildlife Alliance, and he said his “love of forest, animals, and conservation.” I responded if he was not with WA where would he be – and he said he was previously with the Cambodian Royal Embassy Military.

Patrolling the jungle and “Viper Valley” for poachers and illegal activity, ambushing culprits, and releasing trapped endangered animals back to their homes – all in a normal day with Wildlife Alliance’s Rangers.

Coming across a fishing boat – checking for illegally stored animals/plants

One of the newer rangers manning the boat and Eddie

Past the ecotourism village and the windy roads lined by houses now growing sustainable farming (not slash-and-burn farming) thanks to Wildlife Alliance, deep into the forest and over a small river – we arrived at the re-forestation nursery and staff house. There we were welcomed by the 2 live in staff overseeing the re-forestation – Annette and Ariel. They were warm and welcoming sharing stories and experiences, along with challenges and hopes for the project and living so far separated from the city.

Next morning arrival of the nursery workers from the local town – this is a typical mode of transportation for workers here in Cambodia

Preparing the locally sourced (scavenged, tested, and researched from the local forest) seeds for planting

Misting the babies/seedlings

Once the seedlings have graduated, they are moved to larger plant holdings under the shade-nets

With Wildlife Alliance Staff at the Nursery

At the time there were 22 workers but I was told that during planting season there could be as many as 80 – all from local villages. It was wonderful to learn that the villagers felt invested in the land that they previously used to burn and take from, now working to create and plant back into. This program was changing the mentality for local villagers because they now could identify with not only the hard work that went into re-creating the forest but also taking care of it and sustaining… with a reward of all the fruits and vegetables it could provide. And what’s more- once these were planted… the land became officially protected even by government from development and destruction. So far this project has plotted over 37,000 trees and almost 500 hectares to date.

To learn more about the nursery click here.

To learn more about the Ranger program click here.

Jacqueline
GlobalGiving InTheField Representative | Texas

Jacqueline is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving and is now making her way across Southeast Asia. Jacqueline has lived all around the U.S., Central America, backpacked along Australia’s eastern coast while volunteering for the National Park Service, western Europe, and traveled around the world. You can also follow her via Twitter.

For more information about GlobalGiving, click here. 

Instilling Confidence and Courage: Day with Senhoa

On the morning of March 23, I was able to spend the day with Senhoa visiting projects and learning about the achievements, challenges, and staff.

After filling out numerous security and background check documentation months in advance, the day of the site visit finally arrived. Bright and early Debra, Senhoa’s Country Director, and I met to visit the Lotus Kids Club first. The Kids Club focuses on education, prevention and community-building and is located in an impoverished Khmer and Vietnamese village where the residents mainly work as rubbish and recycle collectors making an average of $1.25 per day.

Village Senhoa Lotus Kids Club works with

Vietnamese and Khmer Community that Lotus Kids Club supports

When we arrived I could hear the laughter of the children. Walking through the gate I was welcomed by one of the staff, and kids were happily playing, reading, and creating everything from sand mounds to drawings. The club served as a sort of preschool to not only give the kids an opportunity to be…. well… kids, but also to prepare them for public school. There the children receive snacks to address malnutrition issues and quarterly medical examinations. Families are incentivized to send their kids to this during the day (instead of sending the young children to earn extra income for the family) through a food program.

After speaking with the staff and observing the program with kids screaming laughing and playing, Debra and I were off to the Jewelry Program. The jewelry program is utilizing a taught skillset to instill confidence. Supplemented with a life skills class, this program takes confidence from jewelry making and applies them to the rest of life, as well as rebuilding the ability of learning and solution finding. I arrived and was able to observe a class on goal setting, meet staff, and then observe some of the students practicing making loops with the jewelry program. They come after or before work and school and earn a stipend creating beautiful pieces (some made with Swarovski Crystal). I definitely fell in love with a few of the gorgeous designs. The girls were not only practicing, learning, and laughing… I saw them help and teach each other when one or the other was struggling.

Coco Rocha in Senhoa Jewelry shot by Nigel Barker.

Sample of Senhoa jewelry by Coco Rocha

(Source: Senhoa Project Updates; “Coco Rocha in Senhoa Jewelry shot by Nigel Barker”)

Finally, Debra and I visited the Lotus House – a transitional house for the girls to stay in during reintegration.  During the girls’ time here they can come and go as they please but it allows them to focus on a priority of learning and life training. Residents receive incentives for keeping themselves and space clean as well as using good language. The space was clean, safe, and comfy.

Country Director, Debra, and Me at Lotus House

Debra (Country Director) and Me at the Lotus House

Senhoa works collaboratively with other NGO’s and not only interacts with the community but receives feedback to move forward and adjust current projects. Senhoa is promoting awareness for human trafficking issues with celebrity networks via their Coco Rocha co-designed jewelry featured in fashion shows and events. I was very impressed with the requirements for safety of the girls, confidentiality like photo restrictions, and background check before my visit. I enjoyed my day meeting the staff and Debra from Sehoa, learning more about their programs, and experiencing the impact first hand.

Jacqueline
GlobalGiving InTheField Representative | Texas

Jacqueline is an InTheField Traveler with GlobalGiving and is now making her way across Southeast Asia. Jacqueline has lived all around the U.S., Central America, backpacked along Australia’s eastern coast while volunteering for the National Park Service, western Europe, and traveled around the world. You can also follow her via Twitter.

For more information about GlobalGiving, click here.