*This is measured by seeking feedback from community members who take part in HHA Cambodia’s sewing program and ‘Family Happiness’ workshops
Sophy grew up in a war-torn country. With the Khmer Rouge taking control of Cambodia, she and her family had very little food to eat, worked all day at risk of punishment, and didn’t have access to education or medical support. When her father was killed, her family struggled to survive.
Once the Khmer Rouge regime ended in 1979, Sophy’s family struggled to rebuild their lives. Her mother remarried a very violent man who directed his anger towards her family. One day, despite their pleas to stop, Sophy’s stepfather killed her sister with a piece of wood. Her mother spiralled into depression and died several months later.
When she was 20, Sophy got married and went on to have four children. Sophy was often sick and her hospital bills pushed her family further and further into debt. When conducting outreach one day, HHA Cambodia's Managing Director came across Sophy and offered her a job as their Sustainability Assistant. As time went by, Sophy’s role developed from part-time to full-time, with her taking on additional responsibilities such as teaching in art class and promoting the organisation to the community.
Sophy’s four children study in HHA Cambodia’s educational programs on Opportunity Scholarships, including English, Khmer, preschool, art class and library. Through the microfinance program, Sophy started a chicken farm and built a well for her family to access water. Most importantly, her husband has stopped drinking and reduced his violence against the family after taking part in our domestic violence workshops.
Thanks to HHA Cambodia’s budgeting advice and staff savings scheme, Sophy built a new home for her family in 2018.
Sophy's family has officially moved out of poverty.
Chomrong is a remarkably intelligent woman. Due to poverty, she was forced to stop studying in grade eight. Chomrong went on to work as a builder, earning just USD$0.88 a day. Chomrong married and had three children, but lived from day to day, not knowing whether they would have enough food to survive. Their children often fell ill, pushing them further into poverty.
When Chomrong began studying in the sewing program at HHA Cambodia, her motivation to learn shone through. She was in her element! Chomrong set up a small business at her home, and was hired as a seamstress to make our products. Her three children began studying in HHA Cambodia’s preschool, Khmer, art, English and library programs.
In 2015, Chomrong became a part-time sewing teacher at HHA Cambodia, so she could empower other women like she was empowered. Chomrong continues to make our products, and plays a crucial role in product development. Chomrong and her family build a new home to replace their unstable wooden structure.
Chomrong's family has moved out of the poverty bracket.
*Bronh lost his left leg when he was young after stepping on a landmine, which are planted throughout Cambodia as a result of their civil war. His wife was crippled after being given an incorrect injection from a village doctor. Despite these significant challenges, Bronh was employed as a construction worker, and his wife as a silk weaver. Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, they both lost their jobs.
Bronh’s family received an emergency food package from HHA to ensure he, his wife and their five-year old daughter had enough food to last them for a few weeks. Bronh was eager to participate in HHA’s Home Food Garden Project trial, so he could establish food security for his family.
With support from HHA, and his landlord who is allowing him to use his land, Bronh is now growing eggplant, long beans, morning glory, cauliflower and bok choy. He is able to supplement his emergency food package with fresh, nutritious vegetables that he grows using the chemical-free techniques he learnt from HHA’s Project Coordinators. Bronh is growing extra vegetables to sell to his neighbours so he can earn an income, and also searches for ripe palm fruit to sell.
HHA will continue to support Bronh’s family with another emergency food package, and two months of mentoring for his Home Food Garden. Once schools are allowed to reopen in Cambodia, his daughter will be invited to join HHA’s successful education program.
*Name has been changed for privacy purposes
Eight-year-old *Clay began studying in the preschool program at Human and Hope Association Cambodia in 2015. Her father is a builder who would work far away from home to support Clay's family. Her mother, a housewife, would often collect rattan to make baskets that she could sell for a few cents each.
It was a challenge to keep her in the program; not only was Clay younger than the other students, she was also a lot smaller having been born prematurely. Clay would cry every day when her mother brought her to school and would often refuse to go to class.
With persistence from her teacher and dedication from her mother who wasn't afforded an education herself, Clay's behaviour eventually started to change. She would respect the teacher in class, brush her teeth at school (even though she had never done so in her four years on earth) and made friends. Although her learning was slow, it eventually improved, and Clay graduated from preschool in 2017 and made the transition to public school. Clay graduated from grade one at public school in 2018. Her grades are good, and she still attends Human and Hope Association daily for Khmer language classes, English phonics and to read in the library.
*name has been changed for child protection purposes
Vanny is a construction worker whose daughter studies at Human and Hope Association through the scholarship program.
After conducting a home visit, the staff witnessed the extreme poverty Vanny and her family were living in, and their fight for survival. With a strong commitment and willingness to learn, Vanny made the decision to take a day off from her job every Sunday so she could join our family farm program. Her husband supported Vanny in her learning journey, and moved their bamboo house to another part of their land so she had enough soil to create her own farm and apply her learnings on how to grow chemical-free vegetables.
With ongoing support from HHA's team, Vanny’s farm has thrived, and she uses the vegetables she grows to improve the nutrition of her family and to earn an income. Vanny has now been able to leave her exhausting job, thanks to her new business selling vegetables and making pancakes.
Savin stopped studying at school in grade five to take care of her ill mother. She went on to have five sons, but without an education, she was limited to growing vegetables to earn an income. She has always relied on her husband, who earns an inconsistent income as a tuk-tuk driver.
Savin was always interested in learning sewing, so she reached out to a friend for help. Her friend was happy to teach her, however after a couple of weeks she fell seriously ill and was unable to help Savin anymore.
Savin didn’t let this stop her, and she started asking her neighbours if they knew about any free sewing classes. As luck would have it, one of Savin’s neighbours had recently graduated from the sewing program at Human and Hope Association Cambodia, and speaking positively about it, encouraged Savin to join.
Savin came immediately to register with Human and Hope Association, and thrived in class. She took out a sewing machine microfinance loan so she could practice her lessons at home, and began to earn an income fixing clothes for her neighbours.
With her willingness and commitment to learn, Savin completed the sewing program in January 2019, armed with a full set of sewing and life skill lessons.
Savin has now achieved her dream of opening a sewing shop at home, and for the first time in her life, is earning a stable income.
“When I decided to join sewing class, I wanted to set up a shop at home and now my dream came true. Thank you so much HHA for giving me this opportunity.”
Savin has moved out of the poverty bracket.
The husband of a sewing graduate, San has lived in poverty his whole life. He spends his days collecting recyclable materials that he then sells for a small amount of money. The father of three children, he feels a lot of pressure to provide for his family. San often committed domestic violence against his wife and children, which was amplified when he drank alcohol.
When San’s wife, Chenda, studied in HHA's sewing program, he was invited to join their domestic violence workshop. The workshop was a turning point for San. He became aware of how harmful his actions were, and from that day on made positive steps to change his behaviour.
He has reduced his consumption of alcohol, has dramatically reduced his violent outbursts, and respects his family a lot more.
“My husband has changed a lot after attending the workshop. We are now living more happier than before.” – Chenda, San’s wife
Thida comes from a family with a long history of violence. After her parents divorced, Thida moved in with her family, who developed a dependence on alcohol. He remained unemployed, leaving it to Thida and her siblings to find money to feed the family and support her studies.
Despite the hardships Thida faced, she began studying at Human and Hope Association Cambodia in 2016.
“Thida is clever, brave, talkative, and always laughing. Though she always smiles every time she meets teachers and friends, we can see the difficulties that she has faced and overcome as well as the hope for a better future from her bright eyes. When talking about overcoming obstacles, being patient, and perseverance, Thida is our role model and a great example.” - Phyrom, Thida’s teacher
Thida comes to class late regularly, as she needs to pick her cousin up from school and undertake housework before she can be permitted to study. Her teachers make an exception for Thida, as they know how difficult her circumstances are.
After English class each day, Thida helps her siblings take care of their livestock, harvest rice and grow vegetables to sell at the market. Even with these responsibilities, Thida’s academic performance has improved dramatically, with her always getting good grades in her assessments and exams. We are certain that because of Thida’s dedication to her studies and challenging life, she will use these experiences to overcome poverty in the future.
*name has been changed for child protection purposes