Stories of Change

This year, CWS programs in Cambodia reached 21,373 individuals in 83 communities.

Source: CWS Annual Report 2017

Building community, building better lives in Cambodia

Charn Suor, 42, knows firsthand how socially isolating poverty can be. Suor and her husband, Chey Cham, 53, live in Ang Tboung village in western Cambodia. They have six children; her youngest sons attend primary school while her older sons work in two hours away from home. Suor’s two daughters are married with families of their own.

Suor and Cham are farmers who own about a quarter acre of land from which they could earn about $2.50 a day – seasonally and unreliably, however. In the past, they struggled to make ends meet and spent long hours working with no time to get to know other families in their community.

Through outreach to some of Cambodia’s poorest rural families, CWS partner Rural Development Association met Suor in 2016. She became a CWS household partner, which gave her access to a savings group, plus information and education about farming. She joined the savings group in late 2016, and this helped her start saving with other group members. The group uses mutual trust as their collateral so that they do not need to borrow from money lenders or micro finance institutions, which are too risky for the poorest of the poor, who have scarce material assets as collateral. Now, at monthly savings group meetings, Suor has many friends and connections. Together, the group members have access to information about modern farming techniques and benefit from material inputs as well. Since starting to improve her garden, Suor says, “Now I don’t have to buy as many vegetables from the market and can grow them myself. I can now support and feed my family better. Thanks to RDA I have met many people who help us. Before we lived in isolation and never had any connections; but now we have many friends.”