Charn Sour, 42, knows firsthand how socially isolating poverty can be. Sour and her husband, Chey Cham, 53, live in Ang Tboung village in western Cambodia. They have six children; her youngest sons attend primary school while her older sons work in two hours away from home. Sour’s two daughters are married with families of their own.
Sour and Cham are farmers who own 100 square meters (120 square yards) of land from which they could earn about $2.50 a day – seasonally and unreliably, however. In the past, they struggled to make ends meet and spent long hours working with no time to get to know other families in their community. Through outreach to some of Cambodia’s poorest rural families, CWS partner, Rural Development Association, met Sour in 2016 and she became a CWS household partner which, gave her access to a savings group, plus information and education about farming. She joined the savings group in late 2016, and this helped her start saving with other group members using mutual trust as their collateral so they do not need to borrow from money lenders or micro finance institutions, which are too risky for the poorest of the poor, who have scarce material assets as collateral.
Now, at monthly savings group meetings, Sour has many friends and together they have access to information that helps them improve their lives by accessing information about modern farming techniques and benefiting from material inputs as well. Since starting to improve her garden, Sour says, “Now I don’t have to buy as many vegetables from the market and can grow them myself. I can now support and feed my family better. Thanks to RDA I have met many people who help us. Before we lived in isolation and never had any connections; but now we have many friends”.
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