30 Years of Impact: A Chronicle Mekong Plus’s Journey building a brighter future for the Mekong Delta communities

In the winding rivers of the Mekong Delta, where life and the river go hand in hand, Mekong Plus is making a real difference. As we step into 2024, it’s more than just a new year for us. It’s a time to look back at the lives we’ve touched and the journey to fight poverty in the delta.

 

With Christmas around the bend and Mekong Plus marking 30 years of dedication in 2024, we extend heartfelt gratitude to all our friends and supporters and we are taking this opportunity to invite all the good souls to join us in this festive season to continue supporting and donating to fuel our fight against poverty and inequalities.

 

Narath’s Resilience

 

“Orkurn chran (thank you very much). I really wanted to continue school, but it’s 7km away. Mekong Plus gave me a bicycle! This bike allows me to chase my dream.” These aren’t just Narath’s words; they are a resonating chorus echoing across the delta. Narath, a 14-year-old from Rumdoul, Cambodia, personifies the impact of collective goodwill. Her journey, enabled by your support, is a testament to the transformative power of simple acts of kindness.

 

A little girl in Cambodia with her brand new bicycle

 A little girl in Cambodia with her brand new bicycle

 

Bridging Educational Gaps with Scholarships

 

In the relentless pursuit of breaking the chains of poverty, Mekong Plus places education at the forefront. The annual provision of 3500 scholarships, ranging from €28 for primary and lower secondary to €40 for high school, is a commitment to opening doors that lead to a brighter future. Yet, these scholarships are not merely financial aids; they are symbols of hope for thousands of children across the delta.

 

The essence of Mekong Plus’s philosophy lies in active participation. A perfect example of this  is the solidarity run, co-organized every year with schools, which draws 200,000 participants annually. Runners, young and old, collectively contribute not just money but a symbolic gesture of support. This community-driven approach has yielded remarkable results: in Cambodia, 73% of Mekong Plus scholarship recipients enter university, compared to the national average of 25%. In Vietnam, the figures are equally inspiring — 68% against a national average of 36%.

 

 

School fees, even modest by some standards, can be insurmountable for impoverished families. Mekong Plus’ scholarship program, complemented by the vibrant energy of solidarity races, has become a lifeline for many families. But the journey doesn’t end here; the vision is to amplify this impact. The goal for 2024 is ambitious — triple the education fund, furnish 10 classrooms with school desks and chairs made from the Mekong Plus Plastic recycling project, and extend microcredit to more households.

 

Education is a cornerstone for change, and Mekong Plus recognizes its transformative potential. It’s not just about imparting knowledge; it’s about providing a passport to a better life. The scholarship program isn’t merely a financial transaction; it’s an investment in the potential of each child to break free from the chains of poverty.

 

Microcredit: A Ladder to Economic Empowerment

 

In the tapestry of poverty, access to credit is a lifeline. Mekong Plus’ microcredit program has become a beacon of hope, lifting over 8,000 households out of poverty with an astounding repayment rate of 99.9%. These microcredits are not just financial aids; they are agents of transformation, empowering families to make wise financial decisions, fostering economic independence, and creating a ripple effect in the community.

 

A farmer raising pigs in a rural Village of Vietnam

A farmer raising pigs in a rural Village of Vietnam

 

Microcredit, however, is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Mekong Plus understands the nuances of the communities it serves. In a region where traditional sources of credit often impose exorbitant interest rates, Mekong Plus’s microcredit program provides a lifeline. The program, supported by technical guidance and training, has seen an average income increase of 15-25% per year. The return on investment is not merely financial; it’s about restoring dignity and breaking the cycle of generational poverty.

 

 

Housing: Sturdy Foundations for Stable Lives

 

A decent home is not just shelter; it’s a foundation for a healthy and stable life. Mekong Plus’s housing support program aims to provide families with the stability they deserve. But it’s not just about building houses; it’s about building futures. Mekong Plus provides not just financial support but also invaluable advice on cost-effective and eco-friendly construction, ensuring that every contribution counts toward building a better tomorrow.

 

A family in front of their brand new home

A family in front of their brand new home

 

Environmental Stewardship: Nurturing the Earth We Inhabit

 

Beyond immediate human needs, Mekong Plus is committed to environmental stewardship. Initiatives like planting trees, recycling plastic, and promoting sustainable agriculture contribute not only to carbon reduction but also to the overall well-being of the communities. The numbers tell a story of commitment — 2000 trees planted, 28.5 tonnes of CO2 absorbed annually, 4.8 tonnes of plastic recycled into school furniture, and much more.

 

Cambodian kids planting trees during a school program

Cambodian kids planting trees during a school program

 

The journey toward a greener tomorrow involves active collaboration with communities. Planting trees isn’t just a climate action; it’s an investment in the future. Recycling plastic isn’t just waste management; it’s a commitment to cleaner and healthier surroundings. Mekong Plus doesn’t just focus on immediate needs; it envisions a future where communities live in harmony with their environment.

 

Invitation to Join Mekong Bike Tours and Cruises: A Voyage of Impact

 

As Mekong Plus marks its 30th anniversary, it invites you to be part of transformative experiences. Bike tours through the enchanting Mekong Delta and Cambodia in October-November 2024 promise a firsthand look at the impact of your support. Additionally, a cruise coupled with a bike tour in February 2025 is an opportunity to witness the region’s beauty while contributing to its well-being.

 

A Call to Collective Impact and Lasting Change

 

As we wrap up this year through the heart of Mekong Plus’s initiatives, we extend heartfelt gratitude for the trust and generosity shown over the past three decades. May this new year usher in not just success but sustained impact. From Narath’s dream to the collective strides toward a poverty-free Mekong Delta, every contribution resonates with the potential to change lives. So here’s to you, the unsung heroes, the donors, the supporters — a heartfelt wish for a joyous celebration to all our readers.

 

Many ways for you to make a generous contribution :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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