Bun Chou, center, a group leader and translator for Taiwan-headquartered social enterprise ELIV Co., explains the implements that will be used to build an outdoor toilet during a volunteer mission to Siem Reap province this summer. (Photo by Oscar Chung)
Like NCF, Taipei-headquartered nonprofit ELIV Co., short for Empowering Lives through Innovative Volunteerism, is dedicated to improving public well-being while fostering enduring people-to-people connections. Founded in 2010, the social enterprise facilitates international volunteering in countries across Asia. Every year, it dispatches dozens of teams to Siem Reap province to build houses and toilets in rural communities.
According to the World Bank, Cambodia is the least urbanized nation in Southeast Asia. Just 23 percent of its population lived in cities in 2018, lower than Myanmar, 31 percent; Vietnam, 36 percent; and Thailand, 50 percent. “In the countryside, people typically defecate outdoors. Women in particular find it embarrassing and often need to walk a considerable distance from home to find a comfortable spot,” said Bun Chou, a Cambodian working as a group leader and translator for ELIV. “This can become a grave concern during the long rainy season.”
To date, ELIV has sent more than 180 groups of volunteers to Cambodia. Participants vary widely, ranging from high school and college students to office workers and retirees. Providing housing and toilets aside, Bun said that the organization works to boost the social inclusion of isolated communities.