|The Theat Theng family.|
Theat Theng has lived in Sakkada, Boeng Mealea since he was a little boy. He met and married his wife there, and together they built a life for themselves. Theng built a modest home for them on a piece of land his parents gave as a wedding gift, and together they had four beautiful children.
But while Theng and his wife, Luck, were happy in love, they struggled under the yoke of poverty. “We were very poor,” Luck remembers. “My children were often sick, lacked nutrition, and didn’t have good hygiene or sanitation. We couldn’t grow enough food to last the whole year so for two or three months, Theng and I had to work for other people in the village. We would help them harvest or gather and sell firewood - we were both always busy.”
Theng adds, “But even with all this hard work, we still often had to borrow rice from the neighbours to feed our family, and then pay them back during the next harvest season.” Luck is quick to emphasize that even though they were so poor, they never fought with each other - they love each other deeply.
When FH Cambodia partnered with Boeng Mealea and began work in Sakkada, two of Theng and Luck’s children were sponsored by Canadian families. Through this relationship, the parents began participating in various FH workshops and activities. Luck immediately joined a Savings and Loans group. “I really appreciate FH because they provided us with new knowledge. I learned hygiene and sanitation techniques like keeping the area around my house clean and boiling our drinking water. These practices now help me keep my family healthy. We also learned how to raise chickens,” Luck explains.
Theng adds, “I learned techniques for planting vegetables from our farming group leader; after he attended an FH training he shared everything he learned with us.”
|Theng sprays organic fertilizer on his garden.|
He goes on to describe how they started their own business, “FH staff actually visited us in our home and encouraged us in the new things we were trying. So Luck and I decided to start a small business by planting and selling vegetables. At first, we didn’t have enough land for a viable business, but then our neighbour offered to lend us his field. After some success, we were able to buy a hectare of land for ourselves and expand our business. Not only do we sell these vegetables in the market, but our children eat them, too.”
Theng and Luck now have the tools to grow vegetables all year round so that they don’t run out of money or food.
This year they planted eggplant, cucumber, long beans, and spinach. Theng explains the business side of their vegetable farm, “We invested my money, about 400,000 KHR - 700,000 KHR ($126 CAD - $221 CAD). In just the first year, we got a return of about 1m KHR - 1.5m KHR ($316 CAD - $474 CAD).
|Luck prepares food and drink to be sold in their store.|
"In the second year, we took a loan of 300,000 KHR from my wife’s savings group and received a profit of about 750,000 KHR. We were able to fully repay our loan. Now, we no longer need to borrow money because we’re making enough to run our business, and to actually save money. In addition to our vegetables, we sell ducks and chickens. Our profits enabled us to even buy a hand tractor.”
This personal success has given Theng and Luck a new vision for the future:
“If all the people in my village get the same agricultural training I received and put it into practice, they’ll get more income and have better living conditions, just the same as me. Many families are migrating to other places, nowadays. They leave to find jobs in Thailand. Some families took bank loans for agriculture, but because they lacked agricultural knowledge, their venture failed. Now they can’t get out of debt. I wish they could have a better life, too.” - Theng
“I want to see the families in my community have good relationships so we can develop our country and live better. I want to see all children go to school, to have a bright future and become leaders in their communities. I am thankful to FH Cambodia and very proud of what me and my husband have done. I’m happy to cooperate with FH to help our community get out of poverty.” - Luck
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