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From Isolation to Community

Sem (28) stands in his home with his wife (29) and their two sons (5) and (5 months).


Twenty-eight year old Sem Banna lived a closed-off life. He had no deep ties to his community. He lived privately and simply with his wife and two children. He was crippled by his isolation and mistrust. 


“I was very unfriendly with people around me and I was also shy and afraid to meet many people. I seldom mingled with anyone,” Sem recounts. “My family just lived on our own and had no sense of community.”


The separation from others made life hard. Sem didn’t trust his neighbors. He explains, “When we wanted to save money, we would keep it in our pillowcase or in the bamboo because I was afraid of losing it. I didn’t like anyone knowing that we had money. I didn’t trust anyone.”


But when Food for the Hungry began walking alongside families and leaders in his community, FH staff challenged Sem to shift his perspective. Instead of toiling alone to stash money under his pillow, Sem was encouraged to work together to save with his community. “I remembered that FH staff had a beautiful way of describing the Savings group and how we could all benefit from it as a community.”


There would be weekly meetings. If someone in the group needed a loan, they’d have funds they need to start a small business. Together, the community could support each other in their business ventures. But from Sem, it required a small amount of trust.


After a few Savings and Loans meetings, Sem was convinced. He dug up the money from under his pillowcase and added it to the community savings box. He’d entrusted his money to the care of his community.


That’s when transformation began to happen in Sem’s life.


“Since I have been involved with FH projects, I am very happy and am able to help my family through the training and learning from FH. I’ve also grown. I can say that I am now friendly and courageous to speak in front of other people to share about what I’ve learned. In our savings group, I was selected to be savings group leader. I committed to lead our group in becoming better and sustainable in the future. We have built trust with each other!”


And it wasn’t just Sem. The whole community was beginning to change. They were growing and learning as they worked together on all their projects, and Sem noticed. “Young people in my village now share their ideas with other people of all ages, and they are starting to listen to us. We are planning for our future. I’m really happy, there’s so much to do for our community,” he says vibrantly.

The community works together to build a youth restaurant, a new income generating initiative for the
youth in the community.
Sem Banna is fully invested in the projects that will benefit his community.

Today, Sem is a different person. He’s involved with his community on so many levels. From building projects, to becoming a staunch supporter of child education, Sem is helping push his entire community forward. Sem explains, “Most people are well aware of hygiene, new farming techniques, the importance of children’s education, and savings plans.”


His sister adds, “Sem has changed a lot in both speech and actions. He is working hard and getting involved in community development.”


Sem Banna now lives a life in community. He’s involved, he’s a leader, and he’s thriving.

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Food for the Hungry: From Isolation to Community
From Isolation to Community
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Food for the Hungry
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