There are few who know this story but back in the year 2001 the World Food Program (WFP) had a policy of NOT giving rice to HIV and AIDS Programs. We know because we tried to get some help with our patients and got turned down. The idea to ask had come to me when I saw a WFP truck delivering rice to the local school for the students. A few months passed and we continued to buy rice for our 30 families and deliver it to them ourselves.
One day I noticed a lot of commotion at the school and when I asked what was going on, they told me that the International Director of the WFP from Rome, was coming for a visit. I didn’t think much of it and so just watched the program unfold from a distance. At last the procession of big cars arrived and I saw a man and woman get out of the car and start walking down the long line of dignitaries waiting for them. About midway through the formalities I noticed some disruption and the lady who had gotten out of the car started walking straight towards me with the man following, saying something like, “but honey, this is not in the program.”
She walked straight up to me and asked me if this was an AIDS program and was I in charge. I told her that it was and she insisted on knowing exactly what we did. At the time we had not yet opened the hospice and so there were no patients to show her but still she wanted to meet someone with AIDS. I told her of a family just down the road and she said, “Take me there.” I looked at her husband and he just shrugged his shoulders, and so we started down the road.
We met up with Maul, a widowed Mother of five children, who, along with her youngest daughter, was HIV Positive. The family lived in a small house we had helped build for them, after her husband died of AIDS related causes. The woman asked several questions of Maul and then turned to her husband and said something like, “Can you tell me again why people like this don’t deserve rice?
A few weeks later we were told to go ahead and write a proposal for rice to our members, making us one of the first AIDS programs to receive it. In 2002 we began receiving rice and over the past ten years thousands of families, affected by HIV and AIDS around the World, have been helped.
In the beginning we would store the rice for our members in a special built store room, and whenever they came in for their appointments and medicines, the members could pick it up. In country mismanagement of shipments, however, at one point threatened to close the program down completely in Cambodia, but a visit to our program, from a High level Japanese delegation saved the day.
Because of the mismanagement it was decided that all of the members would get their rice on the same day each month and so we divided our program into six different distribution site for the nearly 1500 families we eventually represented.
12 DECEMBER 2012
FINAL DAY OF RICE DISTRIBUTION
For Partners in Compassion / Cambodia
Our relationship with the WFP has been a good one and although we are sorry to see it end, we also know that it was time to stand on our own again. For many of the families, life has improved and they can take care of themselves.
But for a few, especially the older ones who care for their orphaned grandchildren, life will get tougher without the monthly rations.
For that reason, the Wat Opot Children’s Community will be setting aside $250.00 a month for the next 6 months to help 10 of the poorest families with food supplement. If anyone would like to know more about this, click on the WISH LIST button on top of this page or to make a donation click on the FINANCIAL button.
We have come a long ways with the help of programs like the WFP… but the maintenance of what they have helped us to build now belongs to us. We are so very grateful to all who have and are supporting us with your donations.