Duong Thoeun is a courageous woman. This Cambodian mother of three young children had the courage to try to something different, to say no to the “usual way” and now, with the help of her children, earns $7 a day from her cucumber harvest—pretty good money in rural Cambodia!
This Cambodian mother of three young children had the courage to try to something different, to say no to the “usual way” and now, with the help of her children, earns $7 a day from her cucumber harvest—pretty good money in rural Cambodia!
So many Cambodians give up on the tired land and the two-dollar-a-day struggle to survive in their rural communities. Duong’s own husband migrated to the city to work construction in hopes of better wages, $150 to $300/month. But these internal migrants move at great cost. They trade the struggle of farming life for the struggle of the lonely city. For better wages they trade the support and sense of place that come with family life in their village.
Families like Duong’s suffer as one parent tries to manage the home and family. Sometimes both parents migrate, leaving their children behind with grandparents or other relatives. This disruption and alienation from family life contribute to the increasing involvement with gangs and drugs that plagues teenagers in Cambodia.
Duong wanted something different. And so she summoned courage.
Like Elisha’s widow, who had two sons and some oil, Duong Thoeun put her meager assets to work: worn-out land, a nearby pond, animal manure for compost, some watering cans, a neighbor with a plowing cow, and teachers from World Renew and their local partner, OREDA. World Renew and OREDA have been investing in economic and agricultural development in Duong’s village and others nearby. Our teachers said “YES!” when Duong told us she wanted to find a way to raise her family in her village. With our training and support and Duong’s courage and hard work, she is meeting that goal.
She now earns $7 a day from her cucumber patch. Her baby ducks, her peanuts, her vegetables growing in sacks of compost, and her young pig are all thriving. She has even learned to grow and prepare chaya, a nutritious plant from the Mayan people of Mexico and Central America.
Instead of leaving her children, or waiting for her husband to send her money, Duong Thoeun is proving that she can make her land fertile again and earn a decent living. She is excited that she can now prove to her husband that he can give up his job in the city and that their family can live together on their land. World Renew and World Renew’s partner, OREDA, are helping her to prove it!
Now World Renew is helping OREDA build a regional organization with leaders from the community development committees already organized by our partnership in the five villages of Duong’s commune. These seasoned leaders include both a Christian pastor and a Buddhist temple leader. Together these leaders have earned the trust of their villages and are working together to overcome poverty. Together they have the strength to form a cooperative for marketing, set up an emergency health fund for the poorest members of the five communities, and advocate for justice to their government authorities.
It’s a blessing to see care for the poor, care for the land, and a heart for justice coming to expression in these villages and enriching families like Duong’s.
We are called to be a blessing in our own neighborhoods and in our world. Is this a blessing in which you feel called to participate?
- For the thousands of Cambodian families that are separated because they feel driven to pay off debts—that their children and marriages will be kept safe.
- For the leaders of Cambodia to be good shepherds in ways that God values: caring for the poor, the widow, the orphan, the stranger in the land.
- For the healing and protection of the land in Cambodia, that has become ever drier under the pressures of human greed in deforestation and rising sea temperatures.
- For the Christians in Cambodia to be close to Jesus and to be encouraged as they walk with the Lord.
- For Kathleen, Sovann, Rith, Kao, Navy to have the leading of the Lord.