One hour under the Monsoon Rain

On the shores of the Tonle Sap - Cambodia’s "Great Lake" - a small settlement of fishermen who can no longer fish hides under posters of international aid projects, and provides a clear example of the complicated system of the humanitarian business in Southeast Asia.

People are forced to move kilometers away every year as the water rises from the "Great Lake" to flood surrounding villages. Unable to fish anymore since a law passed in 2006 outlawed fishing with small nets, a community 200 people lives under makeshift shelters in extreme poverty; their only income comes from hunting crickets at night.

Situated only a few kilometers away from the city of Siem Reap, home to the famous Angkor temples, Chong Kneas is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, who rent boats to tour the Great Lake, while often ignoring the dire situation of the people residing on its shores. Residents say they face widespread malnutrition, a lack of potable water and few employment opportunities.

The dusty path that separates the two rows of houses serves as a playground for dozens of children who live with next to nothing. On one side, women bet their last Riels in card games, hiding their aces between their toes; on the other side, dogs and people share beds, napping away the day.

In the afternoon, the sky darkens and rain drops begin to fall. 

"Drinking water," says one resident, as he fills buckets with rain water.

Photography: ©Omar Havana. All Rights Reserved