Field Note #151: An Interview with Nyian


Nyian Saphun is a 47-year-old resident of the Svay Rieng Province in Cambodia. Along with his wife, son and daughter, he received a well from Kone Kmeng and Wine To Water in 2014. Following that, the family also received a water filter and latrine.

Before they had access to these simple human necessities, their story was much like that of many people in Cambodia and specifically the Svay Rieng Province. They did not have access to a clean water source and were forced to go long distances to gather it from other wells or, more often, draw it from the pond or river. Nyian would go around the village and beg the other families to allow him to get water, and many times they would refuse. Sometimes, he would even have to try and steal water from peoples’ wells or collect the contaminated water from the pond.

The outcome of this is that the family was often sick, and the kids would have to miss school many days out of the year. On his property, Nyian could only grow crops half of the year during rainy season. During dry season or when there wasn’t enough water, he would travel to Phnom Penh to work in construction, only going home for a few days every three or four months. Even doing this was not enough to support his family and being gone so often caused turmoil between him and his wife. His family and his life were slipping away from him until Kone Kmeng and W|W offered to drill a well on his property.

It’s amazing how much something like that can bring a family from the edge to where they are today. When I visited them on October 4, they all looked happy and healthy. Nyian no longer has to travel for work, his kids don’t get sick as often and can attend school and his relationship with his wife is wonderful. He was so excited to show me everything he had done to his property since he had year-round access to clean water. He now has a 50 square foot garden, 3 cows, a full rice field and many chickens. From his garden he grows food for the family and also sells the excess for a good profit. In the next year, he plans to expand his garden by more than twice what it is now. He has been asking the neighboring families what vegetables they would like to buy so he can plant those specifically. He also sells the cows and chickens he breeds.

When I asked Nyian what else he feels like his family needs to continue being successful, he didn’t say electricity, more property or other possessions like I thought he might. Instead, he just said that he his happy with the way his life has turned out and that he will continue to save money to fix up his home and plant more vegetables.  He also told me to make sure and tell all the donors that he is so thankful for what they do and to continue to support the Svay Rieng Province and Cambodian people.


- Barry, IPM in Cambodia