a boutique nonprofit that thrives on bringing together people wanting to connect personally with an impact & people-driven project. How can we help you change the world?
Our story starts ten years ago, when Community First Co-Founder & President Pierre Mainguy came to Cambodia with the goal of creating sustainable economic development opportunities for subsistence farmers in Northeast Cambodia. Sen Sok community was selected as our primary area of operation because no other nonprofit programs in this area of Northwestern Cambodia. The roads were bad to none-existent, and more critically, there was no water. In 2009, we built a half-acre training center and the Sen Sok Campus.
Since that time, Community First has brought clean drinking water to over 13,000 people, trained hundreds of young adults and farmed almost a million school lunches as part of our classroom permaculture program. This was made possible by an extensive network of donors and service clubs like Rotary.
Sen Sok community was selected as our primary area of operation because no other nonprofit programs in this area of Northwestern Cambodia. The roads were bad to none-existent, and more critically, there was no water. While most of imagine Southeast Asia a a green and lush landscape, this is only the case for part of the year, when the monsoons wash away the rice fields. This is the only time of the year people were able to farm, as for when the rain stops, life stops in those villages and people seek low-paying construction jobs in the far-away cities.
This left the community's most vulnerable to fend off for themselves most of the year, with no water or opportunities to turn their lives around. This life which concerns a significant part of Cambodia's 80%-plus rural population, comes at a significant cost. The inability to farm varied crops year-round has made malnutrition and childhood stunting rampant in the villages (read more on stunting).
40% of children have cognitive & motor developmental issues directly related to malnutrition in the prenatal & neonatal phases of life. Later in life, about 12-14% of the rural population will have diabetes, pre-diabetes, or suffer from some sort of heart disease, all of which will go untreated in remote areas.
These factors combined and their incommensurable impact on the lives and health of people of Sen Sok became a priority for the community as soon as waterborne diseases were eradicated, thanks to the water wells. But with limited amounts of water, it became important to preserve the water table. Drip irrigation systems, climate-adaptive permaculture techniques and other approaches were introduced.
We developed a rugged aquaponic system for off-grid communities which empowers people to take control of these issues and their lives by both raising fish (a source of protein) and farming fresh produce & vegetables. Today, we're expanding our initial pilot test to more families and growing our training capacity at the farm school. We have also developed a commercial strategy to help these families sell their produce, ensuring the sustainability of our work, and our supporters' impact in the lives of the people they've empowered.
Our mission is to sustainably create local solutions to the global problems of poverty by building bridges and creating a dialogue between those with the intellectual, financial and other essential resources and those with needs.
Our vision is to create a community of impact-driven philanthropists, students, professors, business leaders, and experts in the fields of education, engineering, chemistry, technology, public health, and policy-making to create local solutions to the problems of poverty (as defined by those in need) and to empower everyone to fund & crowdfund the implementation of these solutions by our team on the ground.
Our donors & partners
Community First is entirely donor-supported and is not endowed. We are grateful for the awesome organizations and individuals that have made these projects possible, and the people of Sen Sok are looking forward to their continued support, and yours! We want to thank and highlight the following institutional & corporate sponsors: