Mrs. Yung Lath, a 72 year old who is currently living with her 2 children and 4 grandchildren in a very old zinc house located in Ansong Sork village of Ek Phnom district.
Almost all Mrs. Lath’s life, her and her family have survived by drinking rainwater. The rainwater drops from the very old zinc roof of her house, flowing threw rust and dirt to the reserve jar. “My family is poor and we didn’t even know what safe drinking water was and could not afford clean water. We used the rain water for our daily cooking, washing, bathing, drinking and other necessary uses in our everyday live”.
Ms. Lath shared that drinking the rainwater, her and her grandchildren often become sick, have stomachaches and on occasion have had more serious conditions such as typhoid fever. These kind of illnesses would bring more struggle to the family as they would need to find money for the treatment. Her children would encourage her to boil rainwater before drinking but Mrs. Lath does not feel safe when cooking as she now forgets things and sometimes leaves the fire burning in the kitchen, she became afraid of burning the house down, “I am really afraid of cooking these days, I’m very old now and forgot a lot. So I’m really afraid of the house burning”, she said.
After Mrs. Lath joined the OPA in her village in 2015, she received several training and awareness sessions on safe water and sanitation practices, what to do when disaster is coming and healthcare for older people. When joining the OPA, Mrs. Lath also received access to a water filter from the project.
After Mrs. Lath completed the safe water and sanitation training, she began to change her practices in daily life by drinking only safe water from the filter or boiled water. Mrs. Lath was also able to share her learning’s with her grandchildren, and taught them to wash their hands before having a meal and clean the rubbish around the house every day. After this, Mrs. Lath and her grandchildren feel healthier and now spend less money on health treatment, “I am very happy to join the OPA and hope this OPA will expand its activities to support other poor older people in the whole village”, she added. OPA’s are recognising and identifying the needs of older people in each village. The needs vary from village to village, OPA too OPA and it is important that the needs and solutions are identified by older people, for older people.