Stories of Change

Rany (front) with members from her community savings group.

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

Source: CWS Annual Report 2017

Sanitation and savings: Rany’s impact in Cambodia

At 29 years old, Noun Rany is a champion for health and hygiene in her Cambodian village of Tumpung Cheung.

Rany joined a CWS program in late 2016 to learn about the importance of clean water, good sanitation, proper hygiene and basic information. In a village where most people can’t read, Rany has a higher literacy level. Between that and her commitment to raising the standard of living for her family and neighbors, she was a great choice to be the WASH Focal Person for the community as well as a Self-Help Group committee member.

WASH, which refers to water, sanitation and hygiene, is the foundation for good health in a village like Rany’s. In her role as Focal Person, Rany is helping her neighbors learn about safe water, diseases and the importance of sanitary latrines and good hygiene. “I want to see all villagers have better living conditions; I especially want all the women to have a better understanding of good health and hygiene,” she says. And her work is paying off. She says, “I notice that people now have a better understanding than before and they protect their health by drinking filtered water, washing their hands properly and using a sanitary latrine.”

The Self-Help Group, which is a community savings organization, is a key to fighting the poverty that is so entrenched here. Nearly all families in Tumpung Cheung rely on daily wage labor for income. That means that they are relying on an income stream that is inherently unreliable, and even when work is available, the income it yields is not high. With such limited capital, families can’t effectively cope with any shock to their daily lives, like health challenges or natural disaster.

Rany saw too many of her neighbors going to moneylenders when they were in need, and they ended up saddled with high interest rates that they couldn’t afford. Some couldn’t even get a loan at all because they don’t have an asset that can be used for collateral. So, Rany took action. She started a savings group with 14 women and seven men. Each member contributes a small amount monthly, and members can borrow from the group at a reasonable rate. Rany serves as group facilitator and record keeper. She says, “I am so happy and am enjoying my work, which gives me an opportunity to help my community!”

Community champions like Rany are hard at work all over the world, using their skills and knowledge to help the people around them. And we’re glad to be able to help them as they do it.