Stories of Change

Hoeun with her mushrooms.

A new mushroom business means more hope for a family in Cambodia

For a long time, Choam Houn and her husband Soung Sophai struggled financially. They relied on farming to feed and provide for their three children. No matter how hard they worked, though, the challenges and bills kept coming. Sometimes they couldn’t afford to put food on the table or meet basic expenses. They also couldn’t afford to send their kids to school.

Our team in Cambodia saw the family struggling. That’s why we invited them to join our Promoting Better Lives program to see how we could help. In late 2020, Houn joined a workshop about growing mushrooms. These are a great option for families like hers because mushrooms can grow in a small space and don’t require much water. Families can eat their harvests or sell them for money that they can use to meet other needs. 

So, that’s exactly what Houn did. “I have learned the skills, received mushroom spores and started growing them,” she says. “Within two weeks, I could harvest between 2 and 3 kilograms [4-7 pounds] per day. I have mushrooms for my family to eat, and I can also earn some income by selling the remaining to my neighbors and at the local market. Because of my mushrooms, I can earn an additional income of $5 to $7.50 each day.”

Houn is off to a great start, and she’s making plans for how to invest her earnings to grow her business. “I can save $250 from selling mushrooms from a month-long harvesting cycle,” she explains. “I plan to use $100 of this to buy more mushroom spores to continue growing. The rest is for family emergencies and other expenses.”

 Imagine the hope and relief that Houn must be feeling as her new venture takes off. It’s also giving her children the chance to go to school! Houn says, “I am so thankful for the knowledge and all the support–I now have enough money to support my children to go to school and have some savings in case of an emergency or to buy rice seeds or mushroom spores to continue growing them.”