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Smart Axiata announced today that it has disbursed further funds from its 1 Million USD COVID-19 Relief Fund to two initiatives that will help Cambodians cope with the social and economic impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The Community Advancement Organization, an NGO helping to increase the resilience of agricultural livelihoods of more than 450 farmers in Svay Rieng province’s Rumdoul district, will join the growing list of recipients of financial support from Smart’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Another new recipient, the Transcultural Psychological Organization, aims to provide mental health counselling to vulnerable groups in Banteay Meanchey province.

With the funding of these two new initiatives, Smart Axiata’s COVID-19 Relief Fund is now supporting 11 different projects aimed at supporting Cambodians during this challenging period.

“Smart Axiata’s 1 Million USD fund is helping to provide economic opportunities to families in rural areas where some people have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It enables families to not only produce food, but also to sustain their family incomes,” said Mr. Enn Phanny, an agriculture teacher from the Community Advancement Organization who trains farmers in Svay Rieng and helps them improve their skills.

The Organization also donates crops and livestock to help farmers diversify their output.

Dr. Sotheara Chhim, Executive Director of Transcultural Psychological Organization, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is a traumatic event for many. It affects everyone on the planet, regardless of gender, race or religion. The pandemic has brought fear, uncertainty and distress for many of us in one way or another.” He added that, in vulnerable populations, such worry and stress could result in serious mental health problems.

“In such challenging times, it’s not just physical health that we need to be concerned about. The state of our minds and the mental health of the most vulnerable should be taken very seriously. If you feel that your mental health distress has become more intense and you are not able to deal with it anymore, please seek professional help. With Smart’s support, we will be able to expand our counseling and mental health advice services further into the communities most at risk,” added Dr. Sotheara.

Smart Axiata’s Chief Executive Officer Thomas Hundt said: “We are truly proud to have the opportunity to support such important initiatives. Agriculture is the backbone of the Cambodian economy and providing farmers with new skills is vital for its positive development. Since this unprecedented global public health crisis is also causing significant stress and anxiety for many, it is especially important that the Fund diversifies its grants to support mental health care too, which can be overlooked as a real and harmful consequence of such an extraordinary global crisis.”

Funding for the two latest initiatives was approved by the multi-stakeholder Evaluation Committee – which consists of Smart Axiata, Axiata Group and independent Cambodian representatives – after being thoroughly reviewed by an internal committee.

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