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Story and Photo by You Sopheap | Cambodia Farmer Economic Development
Translated by Prak Somathy | Network and Resource Mobilization Manager | Heifer Cambodia
Ouk Sam On, 34, lives in Cambodia’s Ampao Prey village with her husband and two children. The family depended on the rice production of their one and a half acres of land to survive. However, their rice yield supplied only enough for about eight months after harvest. In order for the family to survive for the rest of the year, Sam On and her husband left the village to labor for a small income in Phnom Penh City, leaving their two children with her mother. The couple was only able to return home every one or two months, and the income still did not meet the family’s needs. Sam On tried raising pigs, but with no knowledge or skills in swine production and management, her efforts failed. Poverty ruined the household’s harmony, and her husband turned to alcohol, gambling and domestic violence.
Working in partnership with Cambodia Farmer Economic Development (CFED), a Heifer-funded project, Community Empowerment and Income Generation, was introduced in this village in the Thlok commune, Svay Chrum district, Svay Rieng province, with the aim to develop strong communities and environmentally friendly, sound farming practices for food and income generation in a holistic manner. Sam On and her husband attended the first meeting with fellow villagers and decided to join a self-help group (SHG) of 25 families implementing the project. Sam On received not only technical and non-technical trainings, in particular Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development, but also a package of physical inputs including two piglets and horticulture.
Sam On’s capacity was built by attending workshops and trainings provided by the project, especially in leadership and project management. She was selected as Community Facilitator and dedicated much of her time to community development. She now takes part in society, expresses ideas and helps solve issues in her community. In late 2012, because of her skills in leading the community, local authorities selected her as member of the Commune Council in charge of children and women’s affairs. Sam On is also mainstreaming the Cornerstones values in her work at the communal level, especially in the prevention of domestic violence, child labor, and trafficking.
With the provided resources and new technology, Sam On was able to enhance her farm productivity, and she now focuses on vegetables and mushrooms, fish, swine and poultry production. Her husband gave up drinking and gambling and helps with the farming. They no longer migrate to find jobs in the city as they have stability on their farm. Now her family has enough food for the whole year, and an appropriate income to invest in their children’s education.