Over the years, Ratanak International has funded a variety of emergency programs on an "as and where needed" basis. The very nature of these programs dictates that they are not planned in advance but are rather immediate responses to disastrous circumstances resulting from natural events such as drought or flooding. Such emergencies can also result from man made situations such as warfare which can force civilian populations to flee from locations where normal food, water and medical services are available.
Frequently, such projects take the form of emergency food distribution, or the provision of emergency supplies such at tarpaulins or mosquito nets for those who have lost their homes. Such distributions constitute a relief effort and goods are handed out to as many needy families as possible.
Often when a response is required to a longer-term problem, (most commonly drought) the supplies are not simply handed out as free gifts but are provided within a food for work program. The work performed is always designed to be a benefit to those who will receive the payment. So the community is assisted while self-esteem and village pride maintained.
A typical example of this sort of model would be a project to build a small dam in a drought-plagued village. Where crops have failed through lack of water, Ratanak International will fund the provision of emergency food. The food however, is not given out freely. It is given to the village in return for the work of building the dam. This work will benefit the entire community, since the dam will retain water to make next year's harvest possible. This ultimately will enhance the village's ability to survive in the long term, while giving them a great sense of having worked hard to solve their own problem. (Obviously the young, aged and disabled who are unable to work are provided for within the structure of such a program.)
Ratanak International has, at times, had to cut other project budgets in order to simply keep people alive in times of crisis. This, however, is normally for short periods of time. Once the crisis has passed we attempt to address the systemic problems which caused the crisis in the first place.
To that end we have dug wells, developed fish raising programs, purchased land for agricultural development and funded an agricultural development training centre. Much of this work is in direct cooperation with local churches that, while suffering themselves, seek to assist those in their community who are equally desperate.
One emergency rice distribution project was so effective and so vital to the survival of many that it resulted in a "Gold Medal of Reconstruction" from the Cambodian government.
On occasion emergency food programs have expanded and become long-term projects of agricultural development. These programs are designed to provide self-sustained food supply for a given community. One example of this type of project can be found in Battambang Province. Local poverty stricken families, some within the church and some not, were unable to find land to rent for farming and thus had no opportunity to produce food for the coming year. Local landowners insisted on rent that was way beyond what poor families could pay and amounted to extortion. In response Ratanak International purchased 250 acres of good rice farming land on behalf of the local church and then offered the land to the community for farming. The rent was to be paid in the form of a percentage of the harvest.
The rice paid in rent would then be used by the church to donate to other poor families in the area. This project has now been operating for over 10 years and is completely self sustained. A village now exists where previously there was none. Many of the non-Christian families involved in the project have happily learned about Christ and, as a result of the compassion shown to them, now have new life and are a blessing to the larger community around them while directly supporting the outreach of the local church with their rent payments of rice for the poor.