Story by Khuon Bunsang | Finance Manager | Heifer Cambodia
Photos by Nou Samnang | North-West Region Program Officer | Heifer Cambodia
Neang Chhoeun, a disabled 53-year-old farmer and self-help group (SHG) leader, lives in Ou Ampil Village, Cambodia, which is where he lost his right leg during a civil war that traumatized the community until 1993.
Amputees are common due to Cambodia's civil war and help from government services is lacking. Heifer International is working with civil war victims so they can empower themselves and impact their communities. Despite his disability, Chhoeun was not hindered in his positive impact.
In 2012, he joined a SHG facilitated by the Cambodia Family Economic Development (CFEDA), Heifer's project partner for Improving Income and Nutrition through Community Empowerment (INCOME). He was elected leader of the Krousar Thmer (New Family) SHG, which aims to improve family economy through training on animal management, home gardening and integrated farming systems.
"I find that Heifer's 12 Cornerstones [for Just and Sustainable Development] work very well for my life," Chhoeun said. "I apply them personally and I have improved incomes for my family and I have passed on the gifts to my neighbors to help them alleviate their poverty."
As a SHG leader, Chhoeun wanted to restore a 1,000-foot dirt road in his village, which connects to a main road. He brought about 15 people together to complete the project.
One shy worker who was reluctant to share her name, said, "I am a member of SHG of CFEDA. I join with the rest of the SHG members to rebuild this road. I am happy to do it because it helps everyone in the village to travel and to transport their crops to home and to market easily and faster."
On the second day of work, Chhoeun said more SHG members and villagers joined in the road's restoration as they realized that they were part of the community's development.
"I am proud of my group," he said. "I believe other SHGs will do the same in their village, to do something together for their village. We can do many good things together for our village."
Chhoeun said he was thankful for CFEDA and Heifer Cambodia's work, which continues to support his village.