Touch Oeun, 41, lives with his wife Kun Pich, 37, in Rung Chrey village in western Cambodia. Before getting to know CWS partner, Rural Development Association, Touch and his wife sowed and harvested vegetable twice a year. They were better off than some neighbors because of their garden; still, they often they did not have enough to eat.
In Promoting Better Lives and the initiative’s strong local referral system in poor communities, the Rural Development Association’s staff learned about Touch’s bad situation. And, with his commitment to do his part to better his life, he was helped with material and technical assistance to irrigate his garden and expand his vegetable varieties with new seeds. He also learned how to compost and properly use natural fertilizer.
In June last year (2017) when CWS staff visited him, Touch told us, “By using the information and knowledge I gained to grow a variety of vegetables using a natural fertilizer and natural pesticide, too, I reduced my production costs.!” Amazed to realize how much he no longer spends, needlessly, on chemical pesticides and fertilizers, Touch has managed to double his semi-annual income from 500,000 Cambodian Riel ($125) per harvest to twice as much each time! From before, when he was struggling to get by each day, Touch now has enough to support his family well – and to have some savings as well! To make sure they continued to improve their lives, the family decided to join saving group with their neighbors.
In February this year (2018), during a follow-up visit, Touch and his wife told us, “Seeing the market demand in the village, we decided to borrow 300,000 Khmer Riel ($75) from the group to start a small grocery shop and to sell grilled chicken when there is ceremony in the village. In less than a year, the expanded garden and new business activities are running well and netting about 30,000 Riel ($7.50) most days. In the last four months, after our expenses, we saved $300! We have just used $150 from savings to expand the shop and add more profitable items for sale such as beverages and pre-paid phone cards”. The couple proudly added, “Now our family not only has enough to eat, but we can stockpile so we do not worry about a future food shortage. And we can afford for socialize with other villagers at weddings and other ceremonies, where we make connections. We continue saving with the neighborhood savings group and we have our own separate savings, too. We dream to have a proper house to live in, and now we are planning to start! We will build a 5m x 6m (320 square feet) home later this year or early next, and we are so thankful for the changes that CWS and Rural Development Association have helped us make!”
(For more information please contact MSophal@cwsglobal.org )