Now is the Time

FOUNDER'S MESSAGE

Being a servant leader is my passion.  Being socially-responsible, a life-calling.  Being culturally-responsive, an enlightening tradition. The Oglala Lakota tribe, whom I served for ten-years, say my longest life-journey began after returning to Cambodia:  “…traveling from head to heart.”  I agree.

Inspiration?  Having witnessed the effects of war on Cambodia, I made a 1969 solemn-vow – “return and rebuild what my nation shattered.”  It came to fruition in 2013, being summoned to found a local NGO, Community for Khmer Villages.  Here is where I serve as a full-time volunteer, after completing an executive search for three exceptional Khmer Directors, to whom I report:  Mr. Yem Sary, Chairman, CEO; Ms. Mak Mao, Director, VP-Finance; Ms. Chhun Chai Pex, Director, VP-Operations.  Each is from a chronically-poor, village-family in separate parts of their homeland.

Cambodia is one of the world’s oldest cultures; yet, one of its youngest countries.  Fifty children under-five die daily from preventable diseases.  Over one-third of children are underweight lacking essential micronutrients.  One in five will not experience their fortieth birthday.  These poverty-stricken villages are home to twelve-million Khmer.  Their societal safety nets are patchy, frayed or missing.  This is where I work – where chronic poverty is inter-generational, imprisoned by the grip of poor health.  It is where respect runs rampant, the family is deeply honored, spirituality is lived in each moment, and friendships are forever.  It is home.

Health:  Pathway from Poverty© is a sociocultural model, published as The Difference Maker, ISBN-13: 978-1987597448.  2018 is dedicated to empowering the birthing this prototypical, replicable model.  Health Literacy Advisors (HLAs) are the difference makers, unique village resources reflective of three-years of research, covering from China’s Barefoot Doctors to Mexico’s Promotora Strategy.  HLAs strengthen environmental-security (92% villages lack sewage-disposal), forge educational-access to health (Cambodia ranks 58 of 60 nations reporting access to healthcare), build economic-security (9-million rural families live in acute-poverty) and address energy-security (over-92% villages have no energy access).  Cambodia’s disposable income ranks 165 out of 176 countries. 

Motivation?  Cambodia’s compelling societal-needs summon compassion – where, by necessity, compassion is a verb.  The model improves family-health to directly mitigate its grip on family-poverty.  Our intent is to certify ten-HLAs from five-villages concluding with a program evaluation.  Nearly 80% of the requisite funding covers curriculum development, certification training and implementation; 15% is allocated for project evaluation, measuring achievements vis-à-vis Cambodia’s Sustainable Development goals.  The application-video explains program details; developmental, operational, budget and fiscal controls; and an arms-distance evaluation for proliferation purposes. 

Our vision is “Being There.”  Recruit from the village.  Train to national standards.  Build trust.  Look for cause-effect trends.  Recommend approaches to improve individual-wellbeing.  Construct family health records.  Build regional HLA-networks with neighboring villages.  Link healthcare providers.  Arrange for emergency transport.  Upgrade neighbors’ ability to understand risky-decisions, implementing healthier-options.  Counteract social exclusion, poverty and marginalization.  The nature of sustainability is the creation of ownership for one’s health & wellbeing, emphasizing prevention of debilitating sicknesses, pains, diseases and illnesses.  It is guided by seven poverty indicators:  family economics, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social and environmental.  

Russ Martin

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