NCED has developed a routine visit once a month to various villages and communities and after a week of teaching a library of books is left for the community’s use until the next visit. This is all part of NCED’s teaching-literacy program. Meanwhile NCED’s boxes of books circulate among the various villages. This requires considerable travel and makes demands upon NCED staff and families since they are away for weeks at a time.
PRESERVING INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES
NCED is also keen to help in the preservation of threatened indigenous languages. Plans are always on the drawing-board to compose and publish books and brochures and other reading material to accompany NCED’s much-anticipated teaching programs. NCED is particularly concerned that Bunong children are given every opportunity to learn their own language, as well as the country’s official Khmer. NCED’s work is vital for the generation-to-generation preservation of traditional knowledge, technologies and ways of life. And in this way too NCED seeks to strengthen relationships between young people and their parents, grandparents and ancestors, enabling an enriched Mondulkiri-regional contribution to Cambodian society and beyond.
EMERGENCY RELIEF: WATER (MARCH-MAY 2019 AND ONGOING)
Back in late-February 2019 NCED received an urgent request from 7 villages in Koh Nhek and Keo Sema district of Mondulkiri province seeking help to build one reservoir, dig 2 wells and fix 9 wells in these remote villages. The villagers are the managers of their own subsistence way of life, but in the drought they turned to NCED for help. They need water, not only for drinking but so seed can be sown for crops and for the care of animals in what has been an intensely dry season. This work is ongoing and given the el nino effect upon the region’s climate, there is an ongoing need for materials and labor to sink new wells in villages and assist in the building of dams.
Literacy Programs in Association with Local Churches
NCED provides literacy education in local indigenous languages for 10-12 small and remote churches resident in the extensive forests of the Mondulkiri province. At “Jesus village”, one of our region’s Christian churches, children hear stories from the Bible and NCED believes that such programs are a vital part of the nurture of young people as they mature and take responsibility for their communities
Nursery – Seed-Bank Work: Trees and Crops
One way in which NCED supports local farmers and agriculture is from the collection and safe storage of local and indigenous seeds. This is a project that aims to assisting in food production but also brings to the attention of NCED workers the distinctive ecology of the region and the task of stewarding Mondulkiri’s distinctive trees and plants.
This also becomes part of NCED’s response to climate change – the region’s plant life, as part of a distinct ecology, is under threat. The threat is increased when it is understood that the local people gain their livelihoods from forests that are in the eyes of developers and those engaged in illegal logging.
With the guidance and support of local indigenous people, with their long-established knowledge of plant-life, the seed-bank receives a deposit of seeds in order to keep them dry and safe until planting season. NCED has received assistance for this in a joint project with ECHO Asia.
Teacher Training in Indigenous Languages
NCED continues to run a bi-lingual education project through its team of language specialists. They have a long and credible history of working with indigenous minorities in this Northeastern region of Cambodia. NCED affirms the importance of indigenous communities retaining their own languages. This is basic to NCED’s outlook as an enterprise in “aid and development”, and as noted it is integral to other aspects of NCED’s contribution, in fact a most vital aspect of all the projects undertaken.
Speaking Across Mondulkiri, Cambodia and the world
NCED is conscious that when seeks funding and support it is issuing a challenge, a strange challenge. As a Cambodian Christian venture it knows that our human work, given by God, is under-developed when proud people remain stuck on one language; showing love for neighbor involves learning his or her speech… That is why NCED in its appeal to donors remains fully accountable to local recipients in their own languages.
Maintaining an Office and Supporting Field-Workers
NCED has loyal, hard-working and sacrificial workers. Of course we have to maintain an office. Communities must be heard and consulted, discussion need to be held, plans have to be drawn up, decisions have to be made, ongoing policy needs to be thought-through. Bills have to be paid: rent; security; electricity, telephone and internet; transport and servicing of vehicles; stationery. We cannot do our work without NCED scooters being maintained and serviced.
So the task of developing a list of project that need to be undertaken is also a project. As a small but strongly committed LNGO. NCED is aware that it needs support to maintain its contribution to the Mondulkiri region. NCED’s service seeks to be humble and responsive to community’s needs. NCED has projects that are in need of ongoing support
A CHALLENGING THOUGHT
A further thought: NCED is a very small bridge but across this bridge multi-lingual seeds may well travel for donors. Why shouldn’t Bunong:ឞូន៝ង and pallava script find new expression in the donor social contexts too? Why not?
Could Mondulkiri bring forth Bunong song and poetry to be sung and heard beyond Cambodia?
NCED is aware that community-education goes in all directions. Why shouldn’t the over-developed people of the west – maybe stuck in traffic jams – gain a new appreciation for subsistence living from the songs and stories of the resilience of Bunong and Kraol people of Mondulkiri?
NCED believes that the indigenous people in Northeast Cambodia do not yet have sufficient voice in matters that concern them. Community reflection and action as literacy and communications skills are developed, provides a path to participation in Cambodian society while retaining and nurturing indigenous roots.
NCED is committed to serve the indigenous people of northeastern Cambodia (Bunong and Kraol). Through community involvement in multilingual education, girls and boys access quality education.
NCED is active in support of communities who seek to implement night time mother-tongue based non-formal education classes. The purpose is not just literacy skills in indigenous and national languages but as a forum for communities to discuss and work on joint issues. Joint issues may be sustainable livelihood and farming issues using long-established skills and resources or there may be questions about management of households under stress and what to do about domestic violence. These are issues that require local solutions and in that context NCED’s role is to provide teacher training, resources, technical expertise, and facilitation of reflection and action.
By mobilizing communities for engaging in multilingual education provided by the government NCED becomes involved in early childhood education. NCED believes it is important to link education to local communities, to encourage parents to support their children’s schooling and to help protect sustainable links with indigenous culture and ownership.
NCED as a local NGO seeks to develop its own organisation in ways that make it not only accountable but also representational of the villages served. The indigenous people NCED serves should be involved at all stages and encouraged to take up responsibility for their children’s ongoing education. NCED needs to develop good governance systems and respectful use of volunteers to have the most impact with the resources at its disposal.
NCED sees itself having a vital part in the further development of indigenous (Bunong and Kraol) literature, reading and visual materials.
NCED’s sets itself to learn deeply in an ongoing way from its work and commits to reassess its programmes once a year by means of “outcome mapping”. NCED realises it is in the early stages of monitoring itself because it needs ongoing formal feedback from community members themselves. Therefore it also welcomes donors and recipients to question, analyse, and further explore how positive change can and should happen.