Off the Beaten Path: Channrith Hing – From Landmines to Mushrooms – Teaser

Beginning this spring Chicago Mushroom Man will be featuring interviews with some of the folks that have decided to make mycology, foraging or production as their life’s work.

There are multiple reasons why one would walk this path, some, like L. Sulphureus (a pseudonym) in Oregon have found a passion and have used foraging to continue the passion. Others like Channrith Hing of Cambodia have chosen production of medicinal mushrooms as a means to an end, he runs 13 pre-schools and programs that enrich the local culture and economy.  These folks aren’t mycological rock stars, you’ll find within these stories a passion for the world and tales of struggle and supremacy.

The commonality between these people is that they have made, or in some cases making the transition to from the traditional economy to one in which they and mother nature are solely responsible for their income generation. They make that transition with empathy and responsibility for the areas they forage or the people that they’ve committed their lives to helping.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

You’ve come here looking for this, full article here!

Excerpted here is a small teaser of a much larger article. This is a complicated tale of compassion and struggle that stretches a generation. Large sections are purposely left out of this “teaser” to compel you to come back and read the work in it’s entirety.

I met Channrith Hing online about a year ago when he was presenting his progress and looking for advice in transitioning from producing oyster mushrooms to producing reishi. In the six months of communication and research for this piece I found that Hing doesn’t work alone, it’s a group of people who for their own reasons, join him to make this small part of the earth, a half a world away, so much better.

Rob ~

 

When complete this feature will be presented in three installments, Channrith Hing’s work and struggles starting the production of medicinal mushrooms to fund his organizations work, the work that Hing has done for the people injured by land mines, and the connection between the schools that he runs and his earlier works, tied together through mycology.

 

Channrith Hing runs schools in Cambodia for three to six year old children through the Cambodia Childrens Advocacy Foundation, a not-for-profit. They’ve established 13 schools since its inception, helping 2,300 school children. The program is partnered with in home visits for parental education. Additionally as part of their mission the CCAF staff expands the income generation of the families of the children they teach by over seeing the introduction of small scale farming best practices, training directly in the homes and communities of those they serve. . . .

 

. . . This isn’t the first effort to alleviate suffering and ending poverty that Hing has been involved in, 15 years ago he worked with victims of land mines. Hing’s work directing a rehabilitation center is detailed by long time friend, Phil Nelson . . .

 

. . . “There were all these rusting wheelchairs with men in rotting military uniforms, desperately waiting for the hospital to be built”. . .

 

Hing community dev 1

. . . It was in the early 1990’s that Phil Nelson was in Cambodia near what had been a Khmer Rouge torture school and noticed several people missing limbs. He asked a street vendor why there were so many injured people, the vendor directed him over a hill. Cautiously he proceeded, where dozens of people all with missing limbs, arms, legs or both camped under trees and bushes. It was small tent village, “There were all these rusting wheel chairs with men in rotting military uniforms desperately waiting for the hospital to be built,” Nelson said. “Those that could were helping, imagine men with no arms carefully balancing lumber on their shoulders in order to build a hospital so they could be a patient.”

 

. . . Nelson chose to document the people living in the bushes and trees in this encampment of homeless and limbless veterans and civilians. . . 

. . . It was a surreal scene of misery and survival that Nelson witnessed, there was a brand new white SUV, so out of place that he had to see why it was there. It turned out to be a USAID official overseeing the hospital construction. Phil chose to document the people living in the bushes and trees in this encampment of homeless and limbless veterans and civilians, taking pictures and writing about what he saw. It’s important to note that in a 1996 World Health Organization report stated that over 4,800 people in Cambodia alone were injured by land mines, the report further states that that figure is significantly under reported. 

 

. . . Phil Nelson quickly began raising funds for the hospital on his own, shaking down friends and neighbors for donations and saving a significant portion of his salary for the hospital. Each summer he would travel to Cambodia to spend time, and to drop off the funds directly at the hospital. “Corruption in Cambodia is so rampant, any funds used for hospitals or schools is quickly funneled of into the pockets of government officials,” Nelson says. . .

 

“The rice fields, you know kids don’t go to school there, when the parents work in the fields the children just sit there in the sun all day, doing nothing, all alone.”

 

Phil Nelson teaching, February, 2014

Phil Nelson teaching, February, 2014

. . . Nelson was still raising funds for his friend Hing, still working together, after the Cambodian government took possession of the rehab center. “The rice fields, you know kids don’t go to school there, when the parents work in the fields the children just sit there in the sun all day, doing nothing, all alone,” Nelson remembers. He and Hing decided to begin something to improve conditions of Cambodia’s poorest children. Hing and Nelson began to raise funds to open schools for preschool and kindergarten aged children, opening the first three simultaneously. Hing developed the curriculum to be a pilot program to be eventually taken up by the Cambodian government.

 

Hing not only teaches the children to read and write at an early age, the schools teach general knowledge and most importantly, critical thinking,” says Nelson, “that’s the rub, the government, which essentially is a dictatorship, doesn’t want critical thinkers to challenge them. The government wants poverty level workers for the new family of Western owned clothing factories. Another reason the government doesn’t want to take up the problem of early education is that the government is so corrupt, theft of funds so prevalent, they’ve realized there’s no side money for them to take in small scale, early education projects.” . . .

 

 

. . . Hing realized that production of Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) would be more profitable with, he thought, only slightly more work. . .

IMG_4962

. . . When the Boeing grant ended Hing had a large hole to patch in his budget. He had expanded to 13 schools and needed serious funding to keep them going. He had individual schools put in gardens both to beef up the schools budgets but to also feed the families of the students. He began growing Oyster mushrooms on straw and field waste. The sales of Oyster Mushrooms helped, but the world economic downturn seriously effected his smaller donors.

About two years ago Hing realized that production of Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) would be more profitable with, he thought, only slightly more work. He already had an inoculation, incubation and production rooms so he began experimentation and quickly went into production. He quickly realized there would be extra money he’d be able to plow back into his schools if he produced his own spawn and now he needed a laminar flow hood. . . 

 Installments begin April 15th, 2014

About these ads

One thought on “Off the Beaten Path: Channrith Hing – From Landmines to Mushrooms – Teaser

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s