Transforming women’s lives in Cambodia

7 March 2018

Cambodia is a beautiful country, but has had a troubled history. The civil war and reign of dictator Pol-Pot left the promising nation languishing as one of the world’s least developed.

Baptist World Aid Australia, along with their in-country partner Food for the Hungry Cambodia, carry out their work in some of the most marginalised areas of Cambodia.

In a remote village lives 25-year-old Saram. A mum of two, Saram’s own childhood was plagued by poverty. Saram has only had three days of schooling in her life. Growing up, as is often the case, Saram’s family probably couldn’t justify the cost of education for their daughter when there were more immediate needs to be met.

Saram holding her baby.
Caption: Saram stands alongside her chicken coup. Credit: Baptist World Aid Australia.

For almost all her life, Saram’s village had no toilets. Her community also lacked awareness of basic hygiene practices, which meant a constant battle with poor health and the loss of far too many children to preventable diseases like diarrhoea. Saram reflected that her life “just felt hopeless”.

Now, three years since Baptist World Aid started working in her village, she is excited about the future. Two years ago, Saram took a AUD$125 loan from her savings group to build a chicken coup and to start a chicken rearing business. Within a year, she and her husband more than tripled their farming income, paying back the loan within just a few months. They used their surplus income to build a toilet, a bucket tap for hand washing, and install a lined garbage bin. She estimates her annual income is now over AUD$1000, and is aware of the importance of sanitation and hygiene.

She plans to continue expanding her business, to give her children the education she missed out on, and to share her learnings with others. Saram has been so successful that Food for the Hungry Cambodia now use her story as case study — an encouragement and example for other families wanting to lift themselves out of poverty. Already, groups of people from neighbouring villages have come to learn from Saram and her husband. “I’ll be very happy when I see them become successful,” she says.

Baptist World Aid Australia is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

Last Updated: 7 March 2018