Stories of Change

Doeun and many of her neighbors rely on the rice bank to help get through lean months when they may otherwise face food shortages.

Taking the first step in the journey to food security

Bou Doeun and her husband have eight young children. Theirs is an exceptionally large family in the rural village where they live in Cambodia’s Battambang province. 

Unfortunately, their family isn’t just exceptionally large. They are also exceptionally vulnerable. Doeun and her husband don’t own and land. With help from the local government and others, they built a small hut on some relatives’ land to live on. Like many of the poorest people worldwide, they don’t have an opportunity for regular employment, either. They make their living a seasonal daily wage laborers. While they can make $12 – $15 per day, their work is unreliable and seasonal. 

All this means that Doeun’s family never has enough to eat, and her children have no chance to attend school. 

In early 2019, our local partner and the village development committee noticed how much was standing between Doeun’s family and any chance at prosperity. They sat down with Doeun to talk about how to help her family and to figure out where to start. Because her family faces food shortages all year round, rice was a top priority. The first thing that we helped her do was join the community rice bank. 

CWS and our partners support rice banks in many Cambodian communities. Rice banks are a key way for families to make it through lean times without having to rely on loan sharks – learn more in this blog. Doeun was able to immediately borrow about 220 pounds of rice for her family. She will repay the loan as her situation improves. In the meantime, though, she didn’t have to turn to a private money lender and steep interest rates to feed her family. Even better, she can spend the little money that she has to buy vegetables, cooking oil and other food basics. 

It’s just a first step, but it’s a significant one. With the immediate challenge of hunger in check, Doeun is looking forward to 2020. CWS and our partners are going to continue to team up with her family to find ways to help them become more secure. Doeun says she’s grateful for the help already received and feels hopeful for what 2020 will bring.