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Saturday, December 4, 2010


Sorry we haven't had an update in a few days, but every time we come into town we get sucked into a free fish massage since our video hit the net.  The star of our film, T, spots us and sits us down as if we are poster boys for Dr. Fish.  Today we showed him and some of his friends the video on the laptop and a travel writer stopped to photograph us mid-massage for his site.  T has also been passing around our Wassadeal stickers, so soon every fish massage attendant in town will be wearing them like boy scout badges.

So, as many of you know we are soon going to be volunteering for an organization called Globalteer - who among other things has been involved with hosting a youth soccer league here in Siem Reap.  We will be coaching and training with the kids as much as possible while also helping to run the league in any other way we can help.  Although planning/organizing has begun for this years season, we are still a couple weeks away from kickoff - so we have been looking for new ways to spend our time besides filming, playing pickup basketball, and eating everything in sight..

Enter Scott Coats.  We met Scott last week at an expat pool party and exchanged numbers as soon as he explained to us what he does here.  Scott spends his summers in Jackson Hole and the rest of his time in Siem Reap building and distributing water filters to rural villages outside of the city.  Now keep in mind we have only gotten to spend a day seeing and learning about what Scott does, but with no more than ten people on his staff he welcomed our interest in volunteering for him.  On our first day yesterday we got a tour of Scott's workplace as he explained to us the steps involved with creating the filters.  I would do my best to explain the process, but an excerpt from Scott's website will do better..

"The filtration media consists of a layer of gravel, a layer of course sand, and a layer of fine sand. There is a plastic diffuser plate above the water level to avoid disturbing the naturally occurring bio-layer. It is the bio-layer which holds the key bacteria essential to removing biological pathogens and parasites. Water travels through the layer of biologically active sand and gravel which traps and degrades sediment, parasites and 98% bacteria.  Operation and maintenance is simple and within the capabilities of any user. Water poured through the filter processes at a rate of .6 liters per minute, which provides sufficient water fast enough to keep up with a family’s demand for clean water. Each filter can optimally filter 50 to 80 liters of water per day.  The bio-sand water filter is made of cement at a total construction cost of approximately $50 USD per filter, including the bio-sand media and a proper storage container.  Community stewards are selected to maintain bio-sand water filters in each village. These stewards are instructed on proper set-up, maintenance and water sanitation education, and pass this knowledge on to village residents using the water filters. It is exciting to see this technology successfully spreading out to the rural areas with the greatest need."

As I said before, we have only spent one day volunteering for Scott but we plan to on several days this week and consistently for the next few months we spend here.  On our first day we got to see the final part of the process - getting to drop off five of the 150 lb. cement filters at two different schools about 20 miles out of town. Although we were unable to have any part in explaining to the kids and teachers at the schools about the filters (two khmer guys who came with us did) we helped to move, assemble, and fill the filters as kids climbed all over us.  We had lots of fun and were especially delighted to find such a great way to spend our time here.  We will also be trained to construct the filters and to dig ninety foot wells - another aspect of Scott's organization 'Trailblazers'  - which we are incredibly excited about.  Apparently has been trying to get Scott to film something about his work so we will certainly be helping with that and bringing some media to the blog as well.

We have found leads towards other volunteering opportunities which we will be sure to share soon and we are really enjoying ourselves.  It's really hard not to be with the smiling people around this town -  and even the pizza is happy in Cambodia.  Seriously. (google search: 'happy pizza cambodia')

Picture update tomorrow.  Love from Siem Reap.

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