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It's exciting when Heifer is able to make connections between people and groups that might never have otherwise happened. Heifer International recently helped nominate a talented young Cambodian women for recognition from Students Rebuild and Half the Sky Movement, and now we've learned that she was selected as one of the five award winners. This means a cash prize of $10,000 for her to spend on her community project of choice.

Lay Savorn is one of the community organizers who helps implement a Heifer project in Cambodia. She plans to use the prize money to open an agricultural supply shop to sell goods to farmers in her community at reduced prices, with proceeds benefiting local elderly, women and children.

Young women in Cambodia wins award from Half the Sky, Students Rebuild Ley Savorn of Cambodia

To create the award, Half the Sky Movement - created by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, authors of The New York Times bestseller “Half the Sky” - partnered with Students Rebuild, an initiative of the Bezos Family Foundation that mobilizes young people worldwide to connect, learn and take collective action on critical global issues. Winners of the awards were selected by a panel of judges and a public vote.

The daughter of a traditional musician and a farmer in the Battambang district of Cambodia, Ley became a community facilitator in Dak Sor Sor village, organizing 597 families into self-help groups for a Heifer International project. The shop she plans to open will supply fertilizer, agriculture materials and groceries to area communities at reasonable prices, cutting out the middlemen. Profits will go to assist elderly people and vulnerable women and children in her community. Ley wants to see every child in the village go to school.

Ley currently leads a new cooperative of 120 families named "Poleu Strey," which means “Women's Light” in English. It became a formal cooperative in 2012 and has pooled $3,000 as a revolving credit fund. “What I want to see from my work is people in my community live harmoniously with dignity, have food security for the whole year, share their own resources to support lonely elders, liberate victimized women from domestic violence and assist women and children to live in dignity and prosperity,” she says.


Kelly MacNeil