As a wife and mother, Saem worked hard to raise her children and to provide for them. In addition to tending to her rice field near her home, Saem traveled outside of the village to her plot of corn during the harvest season.
She picked the corn every day to boil it at her home in the early morning, so that she could sell it, still steaming, on her motorbike in the village. All these tasks were difficult for Saem because Srae Chrov did not have a road which passed through their fields or near her home.
When the village had any weddings, funerals, or community programs, Saem and her neighbours were not able to get there directly. Their only choice was to travel on the main road away from their village, which took a lot of extra time and energy. Worse still, it was very difficult for everyone to make an adequate living because they could not easily transport their rice harvests and vegetable crops to sell to local vendors.
These daily hardships and missing out on her education weighed on Saem, but she hadn’t stopped dreaming. This time, however, her dreams were not for herself; they were for her community, and how a better life could be possible for Srae Chrov.
When World Renew began its work there, Saem realized that she too, despite her lack of education, had a voice in making improvements in her community. Saem and her neighbours soon mobilized to raise funds and plan for a new road. Saem had become so influential in her community, she was elected as a Community Based Organization leader.
Today, Saem’s dreams for her community are being realized. The road, and other improvements, such as wells and latrines, have increased well-being and productivity. Because it is easier to access their fields and marketplaces, village members like Saem have been able to increase their earnings, and with more stable income sources, every family in the village can send their children, including their girls, to school.
Now, Saem knows that all the girls in Srae Chrov will have a better and brighter future, and like her, can become strong leaders in their community.
As World Renew reflects this week on Canada’s commitment to promoting gender equality in international development work, we think of girls and young women like Saem who, because of poverty, have had educational opportunities taken from them.
With this year’s International Development Week, World Renew re-commits its work to empower women and girls, unlocking their God-given potential, and giving them leadership opportunities. Like Saem in Cambodia, these girls and women can become powerful voices for change in their communities.
This International Development Week, Canadians are reminded that in order to work “together for gender equality,” women like Oliver need equal access to financial resources, and to have greater decision-making opportunities. World Renew continues to support equal access to important community resources and projects, such as the Village Savings and Loans program, and encourages people, regardless of gender, to make critical, life-changing decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities.
February 9th marks the last day of International Development Week. Thank you for joining World Renew this week as we celebrate our role in standing together for gender equality.
Most importantly, this International Development Week gave us an opportunity to share all the good that God has accomplished in people’s lives to help them create equality in their communities, despite living in challenging circumstances.