Cambodian Harvest Dried Fruit Annual Report 2016/2017
2016 to 30th June 2017
(Australian Mercy project - Reverse The Curse of Landmines in Cambodia)
The past year has seen our staff increase to forty six people for the mango season and decrease with natural attrition to thirty nine staff at the end of June. All twenty six factory staff members have disabilities, mainly Land Mine amputations, mortar bomb burns, polio and disability caused from traffic accidents. Other staff members work in positions unsuited for those with disabilities. Living conditions for eight families dramatically improved when they moved into their new homes at our property in Prek Dong Village, Kandal Province on 26th June 2017.
The new factory was completed in December 2016 but not occupied until the block of six staff houses was completed in May 2017. There was another delay in occupation while the three phase power was connected at a cost of US$20,000 and a new well and connecting pumps and tanks were installed. Incidental expenses seriously strained our finances prior to the Official Opening, which took place on 4th August, 2017, although production began in the new factory from the date of the move on 26th June 2017. Packaging began immediately, followed by processing as soon as all the dehydrators were connected. We are so excited about our new workplace and only four men and their families chose not to move from Phnom Penh and to commute to the factory every day. Six single ladies are accommodated on the property and in a nearby rented house.
The Project Management Group has continued with only five members over the past year. They are Chairman, Mr. John Thomson, Accountant, Mrs. Judy Thomson, Mr. John Wilkins, assisting as unofficial secretary, from Adelaide, Mr. Rick Toledo, from Wollongong, and Mrs. Marion Fromm in Phnom Penh. Meetings are held monthly by Skype.
Accountant, Mrs. Sitha received intensive Taxation training and she now holds the dual position of Administrator / Accountant. Other staff is undergoing marketing studies, IT, computing and outside English and Korean lessons.
The marketing office in Seim Reap has been open since September 2007 and Mr. Phallet and his wife, Thany are the branch management staff there. The Phnom Penh office has three marketing staff, Mrs. Sopheak, Mrs. SreyLeak and Miss Nouch. Mrs. Bopha manages the door sales and Stock Controller at the office is Miss Maly. Tour group mini-busses bring tourists to buy our products and many of these are from Korea, China and Singapore. Export agreements to Korea have lapsed and a local Korean company now exports our products themselves. Local sales to supermarkets, mini-marts, souvenir shops and hotels have spread to provincial towns and finally into the Airport shops. Competition is fierce from one local competitor but mainly from very cheap fake dried fruit imported from Thailand. Major supermarkets dictate that we cannot under- cut or overcharge other stores, and if we do so, threaten to stop stocking our products.
Mrs. Bopha had a baby girl Singsing in March. She has returned to work and her baby is being cared for by her sister in our child care room at the office. No incidents of abuse have been discovered and all staff sickness is covered by Cambodian Government Insurance. The next most urgent construction on our list is one building, comprising a child care facility, four new homes and an office block.
Plans to conduct English classes and computer training for staff children and local school children is on hold until the new proposed building is finished. Seven staff children attend the local school, which is either morning or afternoon, leaving available time for all school aged children to attend the classes we plan to provide. One child is attending pre-school. Ny's son, Nin, is doing 3rd year IT at university.
In June 2016, a block of 6 staff houses commenced construction and were completed in May 2017. These were occupied in June 2017. Now our most urgent need is for more staff houses, office and Child care centre, but no funds have been received for this construction to date.
In spite of Marion Fromm's two visits to Australia to raise funds this year, donations have continued to decrease. This has left the responsibility of fundraising on Marion's shoulders instead of being shared by our PMG and others in areas of influence in Australian Mercy. More openings for sharing this project around Australia would be appreciated and give opportunities for many to hear of this expanding project among the people with disability in Cambodia. Marion Fromm was nominated by Telstra to participate in the Business Woman of the Year Awards for 2016, and she reached the finals in Melbourne in November as a representative for Asia. Although this achievement gave Cambodian Harvest much publicity it did not provide any financial return.
During this past year we have seen a very noticeable rise in confidence in our staff and freedom from shame concerning their disability. Few people seem to even notice that they have a prosthetic or other physical disability and relate to them freely, which is in marked contrast to previous years. Formerly they were consumed with self-pity, but now their self-confidence and dignity has been restored, it is making big changes to public perception and attitude towards them. Poverty has been replaced by sufficiency for themselves and their families and sound nutrition and education for their children. The staff houses that they now occupy are of a quality and standard above their wildest dreams and they are so proud and thankful for how they now live.
We offer our sincere thanks to all those who supported our project financially and with many other gifts of service, especially the Project Management Group.
Cambodian Harvest Dried Fruit Co. Ltd.