Ecotourism changed my vision
“Since Koh Phdao has been developed as an ecotourism community and has become a unique tourism destination, I have grown to love the environment and day by day I have come to realize it is a vital thing in the world!
My name is Men Vichaka and I am 28 years old. I have 5 brothers and 3 sisters. I dropped out from school at grade 9 because my family had no money to support my education anymore. I am from a very poor rural area in Sambor district, in Kratie province.
For a few years now, I have been working with WWF in my community as a fish scientist and a dolphin protector. Although I only worked as a dolphin protector as an unpaid volunteer, I really appreciated the experience. Meanwhile, I got $25 per month from working as a fish scientist. This not a lot of money for me, but it absolutely made me happy, and I found it very interesting.
In 2015, I was appointed deputy of Koh Phdao Community Based Eco-Tourism (CBET). I was very proud of myself since I never imagined I would get such a position in my community!
In my community we had some problems with sanitation, as well as the maintenance of the livestock pens. Since we collaborated with CRDT and CRDTours, we started implementing projects in the community and together we solved these problems step by step.
These projects also aim to protect our environment. We realize the importance of conserving the environment, especially for the next generations, but also to allow people to keep studying and exploring the Mekong river biodiversity. This biodiversity is really important, and we are now trying to protect the different species living in the Mekong such as the Irrawaddy dolphins. I firmly believe in the protection of these various species, and I am committed to fight for this cause!
Our community also realizes how important protecting the environment is in attracting tourism. Hosting tourists allows us to earn more income and to improve our lives, and by giving them the opportunity to see wildlife in our community, we can offer them an unforgettable experience and hopefully encourage more tourists to come! Tourism has really upgraded our standard of living and has drastically reduced poverty by providing jobs to the villagers. Moreover, some of us have started to learn languages like English and French from the tourists when they stayed here. By the way, I love French!
To sum up, I really love my different jobs because they have contributed towards conserving the environment and also to develop my community. Therefore, I would like to thank CRDT and CRDTours for bringing tourists into the village and also implementing many projects to support the community.”