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One Woman's Outrageous Success Story

WRITTEN BY SHELAINE STROM

LAECH PHOEUN (LEFT) AND FH STAFF MEMBER
She is close to my age but our lives differ greatly.

In 1998, when Mrs. Laech Phoeun’s family left the Khmer Rouge, they owned no property and lived in a tiny house. They hand-hoed soil to plant rice and vegetables and raised a few chickens, yielding barely enough to survive. 

Over time she bought a sow but disappointment reigned with each arrival of piglets. Eight to twelve would be delivered; only two or three survived. Mrs. Laech Phoeun lacked technical expertise to solve this issue.

In 2008, Mrs. Laech Phoeun’s community entered partnership with Food for the Hungry (FH) Cambodia. Her village voted her to be one of five on the Village Development Committee (VDC). She says, 
As a VDC member I have attended training and learned a lot from FH Cambodia such as health – body hygiene, household hygiene, typhoid and malaria prevention; and agriculture – vegetable planting, compost, chicken raising, and pig raising (how to feed them and give vaccines).

Those are the facts. Easy to breeze through. Hard to comprehend the magnitude of change for this woman and her family.

But I met her.

Yes, her new home is lovely and the old house is now the pig’s quarters. We walked through her collection of robust, healthy sows and rejoiced over suckling newborns, toddler piglets, teenagers, and those fattened for market.



She proudly described how she deworms and vaccinates her animals, mixes her own “master food” (a scientifically formulated, all-natural mix that increases immunity and pig well-being), and runs her own rice mill.

Her own rice mill? That’s what really caught my attention. 

This woman is an outrageous success story. She is regarded by villagers as a model citizen and lovingly called “the pig lady”. Financially, her family has experienced a reversal from subsistence to abundance. But she hasn’t lost sight of how she got to this place. 

Mrs. Laech Phoeun knows that local rice farmers need their product processed, a cost many struggle to fund. So, she set up a mill where husk and bran layers are separated from kernels. She provides this service free to her fellow villagers in exchange for keeping the husks which become feed for her pigs. Brilliant, innovative, and generous.



And she plans to continue raising pigs, implementing her experience and knowledge to provide income for her family and funds for children’s schooling. She looks to a future where her children can graduate from a high level of education, have good jobs, and better living conditions.

Mrs. Laech Phoeun looks around her community today with joy and pride, thanking FH Cambodia staff for partnering with her village and celebrating with them as they moved from stuck to thriving. 


About Shelaine Strom: Author and life-coach Shelaine Strom has seen life. Learning from her own professional and medical challenges, she has taught career and life transitioning for nearly twenty years and helped thousands of people get back up on their feet. Shelaine currently serves as the Manager for Education & Professional Development at FH Canada.

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