The beautiful and exotic country of Cambodia has a population of approximately 16 million people, encompassing 20 provinces and 4 municipalities in a land area about the size of the state of Oklahoma. But, each province and municipality has only ONE fire station, though Phnom Penh has recently added satellite stations, maybe 6-7 to better protect the city.
About half the population of Cambodia is under 40 years old, with the youth knowing that their ticket out of poverty is through education. The youth love to learn, go to school and look forward to possibly being the first in their family to progress to University and get a good job after graduating from college.
There are roughly 600 total firefighters in the entire country of Cambodia, including the firefighters at the airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. The biggest challenges that these over-matched heroes face is the need for resources such as firetrucks, gear and regular firefighting training.
One of the most poignant moments I have had to date in Cambodia was in April 2006 when a girl of about 6 or 7 years old watched in amazement as we tested the water hose from Engine 633 while parked at the station in Sihanoukville. We asked her through a translator if she wanted to hold the hose and she lit up with a beautiful smile, took hold of the hose, and had all of us realizing that she could be a future firefighter!