Stories of Change

Top: Thary in front of her home. Middle: Thary in front of her new bathroom. Bottom: Thary cleans her new latrine.

A New, Sanitary Toilet for Thary and Her Family

Voeun Thary and her husband, Mom Chenda, are raising their three children in western Cambodia. The family’s main source of income comes from seasonal daily wage labor; Thary and Chenda can earn between $7.50 and $15 each day. However, this work isn’t a guaranteed income and may not be available every day. The family lives in a small home that doesn’t have some of the basics that so many people take for granted, including running water or a flushing toilet. 

“My family and I practiced open defecation,” Thary admitted. This is all too common for millions of neighbors whose only option is to use streams or fields to relieve themselves. “It was really difficult, and we felt embarrassed. I wanted to build a latrine for my family to use, but we couldn’t afford it,” she said. 

CWS’s local partner Rural Development Association met Thary in February 2022. It was part of the ongoing outreach work in the CWS Promoting Better Lives program, in which RDA staff meet with especially poor or vulnerable rural families to help them meet their basic needs. RDA staff teamed up with Thary and local authorities to construct and install a new latrine at Thary’s home. As a program participant, Thary also had access to a class on water, sanitation hygiene. She learned about household water treatment, personal hygiene and environmental sanitation, including the harm of open defecation. 

“I am so happy for the support to have a sanitary latrine,” Thary said. “Thank you so much to CWS and RDA for the latrine support. It is so convenient and easy to access, and I no longer have to go out to the field for defecation at night or when it’s raining. My family understands and practices good hygiene, and now our health is much better. We rarely get sick, so now we are able to reduce some of the financial burden of health treatment, unlike before.”