Target: Rory and Melita Hunter, creators of the Song Saa Foundation
Goal: Thank the Hunters for leading the way in conservation and health promotion in Cambodia through their Song Saa Foundation and luxury resort
Rory and Melita Hunter have kick-started a wave of community-based environmental conservation and health promotion projects in Cambodia. Upon their first visit to Cambodia in 2005, Australian couple Rory and Melita marveled at the natural beauty of the twin islands in the Gulf of Thailand known by locals as Song Saa, or “sweethearts” in Khmer. Shocked by the devastating human impact on the local ecosystems, from damaging fishing practices’ degradation of coral reefs to plastic pollution on beaches, the Hunters conceived of a way to provide for the area’s long-term sustainability.
Their creation of Cambodia’s first private island luxury resort, called Song Saa, actually prompted the designation of the Kingdom’s first marine protected reserve, pivotal in protecting the vulnerable coral reefs surrounding the islands. What’s more the Hunters set up a patrol, awareness and education program within the local community, bringing to the area researchers who have documented the recovery of fish populations and coral in the marine preserve, according to a National Geographic report.
Ultimately their work led to the creation of the Song Saa Foundation, dedicated to the development of projects throughout the Koh Rong Archipelago. Such initiatives include a solid waste management program in the largest settlement, through which local community members earn some income from sorting recyclable materials for disposal on the mainland. The Foundation has also put on community health workshops and distributed vitamin supplements to care for the 75 percent of locals who are malnourished. The resort itself maintains a strict no-runoff policy via a wastewater management system in addition to sourcing their food locally to support the community’s farmers.
Applaud the Hunters’ prodigious efforts to enact comprehensive, lasting social change in the Song Saa island communities.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hunter,
I am writing in recognition of your extensive projects geared toward environmental conservation, health promotion and community well-being under the Song Saa Foundation. Your efforts to enact lasting social change in these local communities are truly inspiring. The sheer magnitude of your contributions, from the creation of the Song Saa luxury resort to the establishment of the Kingdom’s first marine preserve, is astounding.
By engaging the local people at each stage of your initiatives you are demonstrating a model of community-based environmental stewardship that I hope will inspire others. I thank you for your leadership, and I wish you continued success in future projects.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Quaalvin via Wikimedia Commons