Stories of Change

Koemsat explains the process of growing mushrooms.

CWS programs in Cambodia reached more than 21,000 people in 83 communities last year.

Source: CWS Annual Report 2017

Education and enough to eat, from an expanding mushroom business!

It wasn’t too long ago that Loy Koemsat was struggling to find work. During planting and harvesting seasons, he could sometimes find work as a laborer for $5 or so a day. He also collected and sold crickets and grasshoppers in the market. Because neither job was consistent, Koemsat, his wife Yong Chem and their two daughters didn’t have enough to eat for at least half the year. Their situation was bleak.

In March of last year, our partner in this part of northwest Cambodia, Rural Development Association, heard about Koemsat and his family. Through the CWS-supported Promoting Better Lives program, they supported Koemsat as he began to change his family’s situation.

Koemsat considered the options that he could pursue through the program and settled on growing mushrooms. He already had some knowledge and experience in the sector, having had limited success in mushroom cultivation on his own in the past. After successfully completing education and training sessions, which he took to with enthusiasm and focus, Koemsat received materials for producing mushroom spores. He promptly got to work growing a brighter future for his family.

“After joining CWS-hosted sessions, I used my new knowledge and skills to produce mushroom spores; and though I was not successful at first, unlike the past I didn’t give up. I kept trying to learn from my mistakes and consult with the trainer to improve. Now, finally, I can produce mushrooms to sell.” Once he was able to successfully produce mushrooms to sell, it didn’t take long to earn a substantial income. “Within six months I could rely on earning about $900 to support my family to have enough to eat,” he added.

Nine hundred dollars. In the past, when he was relying on subsistence earning activities, Koemsat would have had work seven days a week for six months to earn this much. Given how unreliable work had been, though, this certainly wasn’t an option. Now he as a more secure income (he has now perfected the mushroom growing process), and he’s even planning to expand his operations. He can stop working as a day laborer and can focus on building his business.

Koemsat proudly added, “Our mushroom business has not only helped my family to have enough to eat, but we can also send our girls to school. We are thankful for the support to help us change our life – completely.”