A year ago, Sek Sok, who is 66 and a retired soldier, was elected to the Morokot Commune Council in Choam Ksant District in northern Cambodia, where he lives with his wife Sam Pho, who is 63, and their 16-year-old son, who is in Grade 11. Because he agreed to stay permanently in the area of his last army deployment, Sok’s family lives on 3,000m2 (three-quarters acre) of government-provided land that has a wooden house on it and a small yard. It is nice, but the land is not enough for significant commercial farming, so the family has relied on Sok’s Commune Council monthly stipend of 480,000 Riels ($120) for their only income. This is much more than many very poor families have, but it was still tough to pay all family expenses – especially school tuition and fees.
When he joined the Commune Council, Sok decided to take advantage of being involved in CWS community development activities, which include support to Councils, like the one to which he was elected; and to individual families who want to improve their lives as CWS household partners. Sok first joined CWS staff in observing and monitoring various CWS-hosted education workshops where, as a community leader, he improved his knowledge and expanded his experience in understanding micro-business management, including mushroom growing, chicken raising and vegetable growing for profit. He also took the time to learn about community health promotion to help his people, too.
After joining several workshops because of his leadership role in the Commune, Sok said, “When I learned about gardening adapted to changing climate conditions in our region, I was inspired by the facilitator to motivate the people [I represent on the Council] to set up vegetable gardens at home. This was mainly because I started to realize that home gardening is important, and a relatively easy way – with some support to start – to help families improve their diet and their income. As my thinking changed, so did my own practice, and I used what I heard and learned to set up a 100m2 (1,075 square feet) vegetable garden on my home plot. For me as a leader, my purpose was not only for my family to have more and different vegetable and additional income; but it was also to show to my people and encourage them to do the same. It was great that I could share practical knowledge and my own new experience with them”. For example, Sok continued, “The first time I sold the extra produce from my garden, I earned $115. I was so happy as I could use the money to buy chickens and ducks, and I could plan to expand my garden to increase my income even more so that I can put some saving for my son to continue higher education”. He added; “I am so thankful for this partnership with CWS which has been helping me be better in leading my community and in improving my own life.”
(For more information please contact MSophal@cwsglobal.org )