Life Stories

Mr. Soer and his chicken's

Mr. Soer and his chicken's

Mr. Soeurb Soer, is a 65 year old farmer that lives with his wife and 4 grandchildren in Reach Donkeo of Ek Phnom district.

In the past, Mr. Soer’s family living conditions were bad but he was able to farm and sell chicken’s to make a small amount of money for daily life. However, as the community grows and becomes more expensive, the chicken farmer livelihood can no longer bring in enough money to feed everyone in the home. Mr. Soer’s livestock raising technique is very traditional and does not meet the fast demand of today’s needs. Also, due to climate changes of the village, there is a higher chance of the chickens dying and that meant there is a high risk of Mr. Soer and his family having no money at all. Mr. Soer said, “I could not raise the chicken well, while I use my traditional habit and old technique”understanding that these practices are no longer sustainable.

In 2015, Mr. Soer made a life changing decision and registered as a member of the OPA in Reach Donkeo village and he was then selected to become one of the beneficiaries of BMZ project in Ek Phnom district. Mr. Soer also started to have new opportunities to attend training and capacity building through the OPA on resilient cropping, livestock raising and other farming techniques assisted with adaptation to climate changes. He also received some farming materials, cropping seeds and 5 chicken from the project. “I have learned a lot on resilient farming and adaptation cropping from the OPA and project, I have applied these learning technique in my current livelihood”.

After the training, Mr. Soer has been able to change from the traditional raising techniques to the new techniques. This has resulted in Mr. Soer and his family now having almost 60 chickens’ every 3-month’s and he now earns between 250,000 Riels to 300,000 (62.50 to 75 US dollars). Mrs. Soer now can now support the needs of his family and send all of his 4 children to school. There is even money being saved for emergencies! Mr. Soer now also shares these successful techniques with his neighbors and other members in the OPAs. Mr. Soer has expressed that “I am really happy to have joined as the member of OPA and received capacity building and support from the OPA. I now have more income from chicken raising and can save 5,000 Riels (1.25 dollar USD) every month to keep my family secure and pay for health treatment in any emergency cases”.

Mrs. Phai - Healthy mind, Healthy life.

Mrs. Phai - Healthy mind, Healthy life.

Mrs. Phorn Phai, a 74 year old lady that lives in Nom Kreab village of Prek Preah Sdech commune in Battambang province. Mrs. Phai, is a widower living with her 4 grandchildren because like many, her children migrated to find work.

Mrs. Phai shared with us that her life has been hard and busy, taking care of her grandchildren and all while supporting other villagers as she is a village leaders. Mrs. Phai has no time to take care of her health and is not able to go for health check-ups regularly at the health center since, “I’ve got a high blood pressure but I don’t have time to go to the health center regularly. I didn’t care much about my health and never do any exercise”she said. Mrs. Phai has also expressed her feelings of loneliness and isolation on occasion, wishing to talk and share some of her difficulties or stories with other older people but most are living in different villages.

Upon joining the OPA in her village and now elected as a WoW group leader, Mrs. Phai found her living style increased and this helped her wellbeing. Mrs. Phai now has time to meet and talk with older people, having fun and enjoying the exercise programs of the WoW’s group. Mrs. Phai now also has easier access to regular health check-up.

Mrs. Phai has shared with us that she is very happy and excited to have an opportunity to join in the amazing 5 Day ToT training on ISHC model and learn a lot about the standardize activities of this ISHC. I like this very much with the exercise activities, game and the livelihood topics during this training. After this training, I have been able to use these exercise every morning, starting from the basic hand and wrist twisting”. 

Within a few months, Mrs. Phai found her health getting stronger and better after starting regular exercise and drinking EM water. Even her blood pressure has become more stable. “I felt stronger and better upon practicing exercise every morning and drinking the EM water”. And I have shared these knowledge practices with my WoW’s members and applied with them in every monthly meeting” Mrs. Phai said.

With increased wellbeing, Mrs. Phai is now exploring a new experience of growing eggplants from the EM fertilizer methods. After a few months, Mrs. Phai has found her eggplants getting more fruitful after using the EM fertilizer that she has made. “I’m very happy to see my eggplants growing very fast and fruitfully”.She has also put this made EM mixed with water for her daily drinking. “I have put this EM into a drinking water for my drink everyday”.

Mr. Voeura - Equal opportunity for disability.

Mr. Voeura - Equal opportunity for disability.

Mr. Seng Voeura, a 72 year old man living with a disability in Svay Chrum village of Ek Phnom district. Mr. Voeura lives with his 6 children and 3 grandchildren in a small house. Mr. Voeura lost both of his legs due to a mine explosion during the civil war in 1983.

Mr. Voeura’s family are farmers, working in the rice fields and crops but this brings in little money for the family, and sometimes none at all due to natural disaster’s such the floods or storms destroying the crops. Mr. Voeura shared his concerns “I really worry when a flood or storm occurs in the village because I’m in the wheel chair and my cropping will be all destroyed”.

Mr. Voeurn joined the OPA in his village in 2018 and with this, Mr. Voeura was able to also join a series of awareness raising training on the Disaster Risk Reductions activities. Mr. Voeura told us “I now understand what disaster risk reduction is and how to prevent from joining a few time in the awareness raising of OPA on Disaster Risk Reductions”.

Imagine there is a flood coming to the village, what should the community do? There are unique challenges for the most vulnerable such as older people, children and people living with a disability. Mr. Voeura shared that he became aware of real practice in these situations within the community upon joining a drill “I become more aware about how to prevent before, during and after the disaster coming, particularly for someone living in a wheelchair like me”.

The OPA has played an important role in informing the communities and the older people in the village whenever a predicted disaster is coming. The OPA has also set up a sub-committee to support and respond when any disaster occurs in the village.“I now feel warmer and safer joining the OPA and knowing there is a sub-committee and they are taking care of older people whenever there is a problem or disaster”.

Mr. Yun - a hand up.

Mr. Yun - a hand up.

Mr. Yuk Yun, 72 years old is currently living with his wife and looks after his 4 grandchildren in Rum Chek village of Kah Koh in Moung Russey district of Battambang province. Due to poor living conditions and limited work, all of his children have migrated to Thailand for work the labor industry and have left all of their small children with Mr. Yun and his wife.

Mr. Yun and his wife grow a small amount of crops to feed their grandchildren but other than this, they do not have enough  money to provide school or other daily living expenses. Mr. Yun said that “My wife and I are old and we can’t do a younger persons job anymore. So we do cropping to feed our family”.He also said that sometimes, his children send them a small amount of money but not enough to send the children to school.

Mr. Yun and his wife joined as a member of the OPA in his village and requested a loan of 400,000 Riels ($100USD) from the OPA to expand his cropping that could then increase earnings for the family. After receiving a loan from the OPA, Mr. Yun used this loan to buy more cropping seeds to grow beans, morning glory and cabbage in his small garden. After the crops were harvested, he began to earn regular income ranging between 5,000 Riels ($1.25USD) and 8,000 Riels ($2USD) a day depending on the season.

After one year, Mr. Yun  was able to pay back all of the loan to the OPA and saved enough money to be able to buy medicine when someone in the family become unwell. Mr Yun can also afford to send his grandchildren to school and the school materials required. Mr. Yun said, “At an old age like me, no one dare to give a loan but the OPA did. The OPA not only gave me a loan but also referred me to attend a training on agricultural techniques and cropping which allow me to grow fruitfully. I felt warm and happy to be the member of OPA”.

Mrs. Lath - Wash education.

Mrs. Lath - Wash education.

Mrs. Yung Lath, 72 years old is currently living in Ansong Sork village of Ek Phnom district. She has 2 children and 4 grandchildren, all living together in a very old zinc house.

Almost all Mrs. Lath’s life, her and her family has survived by drinking rainwater. The rainwater drops from the top of the very old zinc roof of her house flowing threw rust and dirt to the reserve jar. “My family is poor and we don’t even know what safe drinking water is and cannot afford clean water. We use the rain water for our daily cooking, washing, bathing, drinking and other necessary uses in our everyday live”.

Ms. Lath shared that drinking the rainwater, her and her grandchildren often become sick and have stomachache, and on occasion have had more serious conditions such as typhoid fever which brings more struggle for the family, trying to find money for the treatment. Her children encourage her to boil rainwater before drinking but Mrs. Lath does not feel safe when cooking as she now forgets things and sometimes leaves the fire burning in the kitchen and has become afraid of the house burning down, “I am really afraid of cooking these days while I’m very old now and forgot a lot. So I’m really afraid of the house burning”, she said.

After Mrs. Lath joining the OPA in her village in 2015, Mrs. Lath has received several training and awareness sessions on safe water and sanitation practices, particularly when disaster is coming including orientation about the healthcare for older people. When joining the OPA, Mrs. Lath also received access to a water filter from the project.

After Mrs. Lath completed the safe water and sanitation training, she began to change her practices in daily life by drinking only safe water from the filter or boiled water. Mrs. Lath was also able to share her learning’s with her grandchildren, and taught them to wash their hands before having a meal and clean the rubbish around the house every day. After this, Mrs. Lath and her grandchildren feel after and spend less money on health treatment than before, “I am very happy to join in the OPA and hope this OPA will expand its activities to support other poor older people in the whole village”, she added.  OPA’s are recognizing and identifying the needs of older people in each village. It is important identifying the needs and finding solutions, by older people, for older people.

Mr. Sarorn - leadership and community.

Mr. Sarorn - leadership and community.

Mr. Lek Sarorn, 68 years old is a member of the WoW Group management committee in Kampong Preah village of Battambang province. Mr. Sarorn shared with HelpAge Cambodia that he was very excited to be elected as a committee member and join the WoW group activities, “I found the WoW model very exciting and this could make older people happy with a lot of exercise activities, building understanding of health care and improve our knowledge on livelihood”, Mr. Sarornsaid.

Mr. Sarorn’s OPA was first established in late 2017, driven by their own community, older people in the village and with the technical support of HelpAge Cambodia. In the beginning, Mr. Sarorn’s OPA was unable to run activities for support for older people outside of funeral funding or on the rare occasion, when someone become unwell.

Upon the establishment of the OPA, they were then selected as a WoW group. WoW group’s represent outstanding OPA’s who have skilled members and become self-sustainable. This became a very exciting movement in the village when this WoW group was selected to be apart of the SANA II project. Mr. Sarorn say’s “We now have many activities to support and help older people in the village such as exercise, health awareness/check-up, a micro-credit program and livelihood”.Because of the support of the SANA II project and HelpAge Cambodia, this increased the members and participation in the WoW group’s activities.

The WoW committee aims to share important knowledge and increase the livelihood of older people and practices through meetings and activities, Mr. Sarorn said “I’m very happy to join the WoW group activities and support the poor and older people facing hardship in the village”.

 Mr. Sarorn mentioned that in the past, he never cared much about his health, exercise and he rarely visited health centers. After he received training on the Intergeneration Self Help Club (ISHC model) and healthcare, he began to adopt new routines such as regular exercise and visiting health center. Mr. Sarorn said “I am having fun and enjoy the exercise now. Our WoW group is now starting to do exercise weekly and I do exercise daily at home”. I felt much better upon trying a regular exercise and within these 3 months, even my eating and sleeping was better. My blood pressure is more stable than before”. Exercise and social inclusion for older people and communities are extremely important for a person’s mental health. Just the smallest activity 2-3 times week, such as a walk can increase a person’s wellbeing.