Hope In the Midst of Loss and Struggle

CWS Cambodia | January 7, 2021

      With funding from Later-Day Saint Charities’ 2020 holiday Giving Machines, CWS and Cambodian partners have been able to work with some of Cambodia’s most acutely vulnerable subsistence farmers this year. These are families who own tiny land plots at best. Many have no land at all. In the remote rural areas where CWS works, all families rely at least partly on the vegetables they are able to grow in the home gardens and on the chickens or fish they can raise in their yards and ponds. Without these meager self-generated foods, the most vulnerable families – those who depend on their daily wage labor to buy food – usually do not have enough to eat. This was true even before the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis hit Cambodia, and the rest of the world, in early 2020.

      Because of the Latter-day Saints generosity this year, CWS and our partners were able to work closely with these landless or land-poor families during 2020. Because we had the possibility to give these families chickens or pigs to raise – with the goal that they would have some healthy food and better diets, we started with information-sharing and hands-on training about poultry- and pig-raising. This effort complemented ongoing work in the CWS Promoting Better Lives initiative, which has been the foundation of CWS work for the past several years.

      This year, the initiative has reached 1,000+ most vulnerable families in 68 communities.

      Akk Oan, 47, lives his wife and four children in Ang village in Battambang province in western Cambodia. The family is landless. With no farmland or even a home garden plot, they rely solely on his income from daily wage labor for their food and shelter. Before COVID-19, Oan’s two teenage children migrated to work in Thailand, and they sent money home to help the younger children. But Oan told us that even though three of his family members work as wage laborers, they are so low-paid that his two younger children and wife sometimes have not have enough to eat. Oan admitted that sometimes he has worked a whole day without any food. So, his family’s life has been very hard.

      Now, with COVID-19 restriction bringing his older children home to no work, and losing their remitted wages, the family has a lot more hardship.

      Learning about Oan and his family, staff from our partner, Rural Development Association, talked to him about how we might help him help himself. Oan mentioned that it would help a lot if he did not need to walk around to others’ farms and fields – which he continues to do now that it is rice harvesting time – to try to find day labor. When he heard that he could receive a piglet, and support to raise it properly, he joined others to learn the basics of best practice pig raising! He got expert information from the local ag officer about what and how to feed and protect the piglet, starting with vitally import vaccination.

        Oan said, “I am so very grateful for the piglet! With my low pay as a daily wage laborer, I could never afford to buy one. Now, while I continue to harvest others’ rice for a bit of money to keep the family going, I will raise the piglet. In time, I plan to breed her, and this will yield money to buy rice and other food for my family. My idea is to save sine money to buy more pigs. I hope to expand my newfound business so in the future I will no longer work as a wage laborer in. I can’t thank you enough for such support”.

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