Posted by in Features.

by Margaret Diskin, Claregalway

During a recent visit to South East Asia, I gained a better understanding of the life of the disadvantaged in these countries. Familiar tourist trails in Cambodia/Vietnam give most travellers only the smallest glimpse of the poverty that exists behind the urban tourist facades, and in rural areas. Communities frequently live without water, sanitation or electricity in primitive homes constructed of bamboo, palm leaves and tree branches with earth floors, where medical facilities are non-existent and even the most basic educational facilities are not available or difficult to access. In this environment, the accumulation of non-essential assets is inconceivable, and it is an ongoing struggle to put the next meal on the table.

The entire lives of families are dedicated to survival. The resilience of the people of these countries is truly amazing.

Conflict and political upheaval spanning many, many generations has hindered national development, fragmented cultures and caused unacceptable high levels of poverty, hardship and appalling quality of life for many continues to this day. In spite of this, people generally seem to accept their fate and manage to overcome daily challenges that most of us in the developed world would find insurmountable.

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History and culture are the principle drivers of the values, relationships and aspirations of these people and assist them to adapting to and dealing with the various impositions they have to endure over the last 150 years, during which enormous obstacles on many levels have been placed in their paths.

During my visit I found a wonderful NGO Non-Government Organisation called Project Indochina who works tirelessly to improve the quality of life for the local populations. They deliver aid in such a way that not only respects the culture but also preserves the personal dignity and self-esteem of the recipients.

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Visit for more information on the wonderful work which they do with many disadvantaged families on a daily basis. If you have any spare money this Christmas—instead of giving unwanted presents please help Project Indochina to keep the dream alive.