Since 1981 Mennonite Central Committee has focused much of its rural efforts on Prey Veng province. But why? Prey Veng has, over decades, been one of the highest need areas that is relatively accessible from Phnom Penh.
- The most brutal Khmer Rogue internal purges targeted the East Zone which included Prey Veng province.
- Prey Veng province’s topography leaves it susceptible to severe flooding and drought.
- The province was the site of major military combat; during the Vietnamese-American War, the Cambodian Civil War, and the Vietnamese-Cambodian war.
Prey Veng was not selected because it was safe.
- Khmer Rogue guerrilla fighters were active, even on the outskirts of the provincial capital, up until the mid-90s.
- Mesang district, where MCC launched an integrated community development effort, was known for its gangs of armed robbers and high murder rate until the early 2000s.
- Prey Veng was the military staging area for an attempted coup against the government in 1994.
Prey Veng is also the location of Neak Loeung. On August 6, 1973 an American B-52 Stratofortress bomber mistakenly dropped its 20-ton load on this ferry town. At least 137 Cambodians were killed and another 268 were wounded. Over a third of the town was destroyed, including the Hospital.
One of Mennonite Central Committee’s ongoing projects during the 1980s was the rehabilitation of the hospital at Neak Loeung. Along with the obvious need for hospital facilities in Cambodia, the symbolic statement of a US NGO rebuilding a hospital bombed by the US government also provided impetus for the project. This marked the start of MCC’s health program in Prey Veng province, where Neak Loeung is located.