Stories of Change

Oeun and his family.

CWS programs in Cambodia reached more than 30,000 people last year.

Mushroom growing helps stabilize a family’s income

Two years ago, Youn Oeun could make about $9 a day as a construction worker. By some standards in the area, that’s plenty of money. The problem was that it wasn’t guaranteed income. Oeun only got paid on the days when he could find work, which was only occasionally.

Oeun and his wife, Chhoun Dieb, have five kids ranging from a 3-year-old to an 18-year-old. They don’t own any farmland, so Oeun’s construction job was their only source of income.

They were doing their best, but it just wasn’t enough.

The couple’s two oldest sons dropped out of school and went to Cambodia’s capital city of Phnom Penh to work. Luckily, they were able to find jobs where they can each earn about $150/month to support their family back home.

In the middle of 2016, CWS partner Rural Development Association started a program in the family’s village to help the families there. Oeun signed up so that he could find a new income source that would help ensure that his family had food on their table and better health. Through the program, Oeun learned a lot of helpful information about raising chickens and gardening in ways that would mitigate climate change. He received seeds and tools for gardening.

Perhaps the most important part of the program, though, is that Oeun learned about cultivating mushrooms to sell. With his new knowledge in hand, Oeun and Dieb got to work building their new business on the land around their house.

Two years later, the family’s life has completely turned around. Today, they have almost no need to buy vegetables from other people. In fact, they have a surplus that they can sell for an average of $10 per day! That’s plenty to feed their family well all year round, and enough to cover the school fees for their children. Oeun now shares his knowledge and experience with mushroom growing with his neighbors.

CWS staff recently met with Oeun during a visit to his community, and he said, “I am so thankful to RDA and CWS for the support; I have learned a lot, and I am confident and happy with my work as a trainer. Now I do not need to worry if there will be outside work available for me; and, even when I do work on a construction project, I still have my home-based income, which is steady. So, thanks again for enabling me to stabilize my family’s situation.”