In Cambodia, it is not only the streets that are difficult to navigate. Everyday life is a struggle for many of the country’s 15 million inhabitants. Although the province of Battambang is known as the “Rice Bowl” of Cambodia on account of its fertile land, its inhabitants still have to survive on an average wage of 1,800 Riel per day, or half a US dollar, which puts many of them below the absolute poverty threshold of 1.25 US Dollar per day.
As a consequence of the devastating Khmer Rough regime, Cambodia is believed to have one of the highest numbers of orphans and street children in the world. Girls in particular are forced to bear the brunt of these difficult circumstances. The lack of work and parents’ struggles to provide for their families mean that girls have to earn a wage, whether as field laborers, travelling vendors, casual workers or beggars. Many families also barter their daughters off to unscrupulous employers in good faith, making young women into easy prey for human traffickers and forcing them straight into a life of slavery and forced prostitution. Shipped across the borders illegally by smugglers, girls end up in the brothels of Thailand and Vietnam. They are moved from one place to another, becoming lost.
“Sport has the power to change the world”, as Nelson Mandela said. It does not only speak to youth in a language they understand, it also creates hope where once there was only despair. SALT was founded on these objectives and they are still present in everything they do and plan. At SALT they know children are the future of Cambodia and know SALT can give them the tools to make it brighter.
To achieve this goal SALT Academy Mission states:
“Our mission is, first, to provide recreational activity and holistic development to the youth of Cambodia, through a community-based football program that teaches life skills and builds positive relationships.
Second, to give young adults an opportunity to use and further develop skills through volunteer, internship opportunities, mentoring, and vocational training that enable them to be leaders within their community.
Third, to encourage community groups to network and build positive relationships, reaching out to their neighbors using football as a common objective.
And fourth, to fight gender inequality by working to convince the community that women can also play football.”
Since the start of SALT Academy in the end of 2006 they have been renting few places in Battambang where they could develop a playground for the teams to play in the weekend game and practice their football session in the weekday. Since 2011 SALT has been renting the Airport Field from the Air Force. The field is very well located and is convenient for the kids to play. The problem SALT is concerned with is that the place belongs to a group of military and government. Although they pay $1200 per year to use the field, they cannot develop the field as they don’t know if the Air Force will start using the airport again or if the whole airport will be sold by the government.
To resolve this situation SALT has, since 2013, a plan to have its own football field. For this reason they bought 3 hectares land. They will start with a simple field where they only have a space for football training, weekend games and one shade for the teams and possibly develop this field to a sport school and a small stadium in the future.
We decided to support SALT by taking the patronage to help build their own football field.