MAY 1, 2017 | Southeast Asia: Sabai
Nestled on the southern coast of Cambodia lies the town of Kampot, a short walk through the town will find you more english text than Khmer script as foreign run bars and burger joints dominate the center of town. Stationed along the beautiful Kampot river that has provided the town with a steady supply of fish markets and seafood restaurants, it has also provided a living to the countless fisherman who make their homes along the small villages that line the river. Head twenty minutes along the river to find a small Cham muslim community who have fished this river for generations. Despite looking so similar in appearance to so many of the other towns here behind the tin roof houses and salt flats is hidden the eco lodge, a small community dedicated to preserving the mangrove wildlife of the Kampot river.
The leader of this community is a man by the name of Mr. Him, behind his cigarette smoke and wrinkled face lies a man with a commanding presence and a story to share. Mr. Him originally fished the land like so many of his family, until he noticed so many of his village needing to leave to the neighboring waters of vietnam. The Kampot could no longer supply the fish that the fishers needed to fend for their families. Development taking over one of the river banks placed a major strain on the rivers mangrove ecosystem, which housed so many of the fish and small aquatic animals that keep the river ecosystem alive. So Mr. Him and his group went against the development of the river and started a nursery for mangroves in order to replant them back into the ecosystem of the river. His results speak for themselves as he has been able to nearly double the salary of the fishermen on the river and nearly prevent all of the village needing to leave to find better waters. However despite all his effort and success he faces much backlash from an even stronger presence who would like to commercialize and develop along the river.
He was once offered $50,000 USD if he would leave and allow his village to be developed on. Mr. him refused the money. He claims he is on nearly every black list in the country and has multiple arrest warrants out for him in addition to being in constant threat of violence from his opposition. We were able to offer Mr. Him a $400 USD donation for his work in the hope that he can continue to protect the land he loves.