Saron Nith is 35 years old, and until recently she could not read or write. She lives in Robonh village in Cambodia, where she is part of a Village Development Committee and is an active health volunteer. She has mobilized the community to improve the condition of the community’s road, and she encourages families to drink treated water from bio-sand filters and build latrines. She has consistently raised awareness among women about the importance of mother and child health and nutrition, cooking nutritious food and education community members on hygiene and sanitation.
As a VDC member, Saron saw cases where illiterate people were being cheated. This motivated her to learn to read and write the Khmer language. She completed a literacy class in only seven months.
Saron is also a founding member of her community’s savings group, called Robonh Samaky. This savings group was started by ten women in August 2014 with support and training from CWS. Initially, members saved 3,000 Riels (0.75 USD) per member per month, and in the second year they increased that to 5,000 Riels (1.25 USD). The group lends money to members to help build businesses or fund other projects, and repayment occurs with a manageable interest rate. Now, the group has 900,000 Riels (225 USD). The goal is to improve the living conditions of all group members in the next three to five years and then begin to assist other community members who are in need.
Now that Saron is able to read and write, she is able to assist both the VDC and savings group by recording meeting notes. She was chosen by her peers to be Chief of the savings group, and in that role she has been invited to share her knowledge and experiences managing her savings group with local authorities and other groups in nearby communities. At home, she helps her children with homework and serves as an example of lifelong learning in her community.