Tep Kosol is 49 and lives with her husband, Sin Choy, who is 66 and has been disabled and unable to work for about 10 years. They have four children between the ages of 24 and six; and, even with her eldest daughters’ help, when they left school to take jobs, Kosol has struggled to support the family. In the past, she has been as a daily wage laborer earning about $6 day – but only occasionally during planting and harvesting seasons. Over the years, her family has lost their land and many possessions paying for Choy’s health care. For now, the family lives for free on land owned by an adult son of Choy’s from an earlier marriage. But, Kosol – despite all the challenges she faces, including the fact that her 6-year-old is a Downs Syndrome child – wants to regain her self-reliance; and so. she is happy to partner with CWS and a local development group, the Rural Development Association (RDA).
Kosol’s situation became known to CWS when some of our Cambodia team worked with RDA and Nikum Krau Village Development Committee to prioritize families who could most benefit from joining some of the integrated community development activities that comprise Promoting Better Lives. This project is designed to give families a hand up instead of a hand out; and, because of her family’s clear need and CWS mandate to help the most vulnerable among us attain the basic rights to wellbeing and dignity, RDA began working with Kosol last year.
First, she joined education sessions about vegetable gardening, plus chicken- and fish-raising. Immediately, with seeds and tools bought with CROP support, Kosol and her two oldest daughters started a garden on some of the land her husband’s son is allowing them to use. In a short time, she and her daughters also started raising chickens and fish to support the family. Now, one great outcome is that one of the younger children, a son, attends school and is in Grade 5. His younger brother stays at home, for now, and is better cared for in a safer home to which his mother has added a sanitary latrine, with some of her new earnings from selling surplus vegetables, eggs and fish beyond what the family needs for its own meals.
The CWS team in Cambodia knows many inspiring stories of triumph over hardship from decades of work with poor rural families. With Kosol they are newly inspired! Today, with her daughters’ help and RDA / CWS technical support, Kosol can feed her family well and earn as much as $30-$40 each week besides. Reflecting on these amazing facts she says, “I thank everyone for all the support to help me start my home-based work, so I could stop working as a daily wage laborer on others’ farms and start to work at home instead. It is good for me as the main wage earner for the family, and it give me time to care for my husband and my youngest son, too.”
(For more information please contact MSophal@cwsglobal.org )