Samnang Sum is studying in grade six at Udom Sorya Primary School in Takeo province, regional Cambodia. As a participant of Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy (CFL) program, Samnang has been able to change his financial habits. He has opened a savings account and is making contributions with a goal. He is aiming to support his education and become an engineer in Cambodia.
Samnang is the oldest son in a family of five. As the oldest, he does most of the housework. These duties include taking care of the animals and cleaning when his parents are not home. Due to this, his father, who works as a local vet, gives him 1500 Riels ($0.50 AUD) a day to take to school.
Initially, before Samnang was taught by the CFL program, he liked spending this money on snacks and toys, without thinking about how hard his parents worked to provide him with this money.
The CFL program taught Samnang about managing his savings and developing a short and long-term goal. It also assisted in him opening a savings account with his local village savings bank. Cufa project officers use a variety of mediums to teach financial literacy ranging from workbooks and tablets in school to home visits to reinforce the lessons and check the progress.
Due to the CFL program, Samnang has been much more attentive to his savings. He better understands the value of money and how hard his parents work to earn for their family. Consequently, he has been able to save around $200 USD in his savings account over the past 2 years. Now Samnang has made his long-term savings goal to save up enough money to pay for a tertiary education to become an engineer in Cambodia!
Cufa’s Children’s Financial Literacy program has taught over 90,000 children since its inception. In the past 3 years, 66% of participants have been actively saving. Since the CFL program started in 2008, the average monthly savings from each child has increased by 236% from $0.89 to $2.99.
Sok Toh is a participant of our Strengthening Resettlement and Income Restoration Implementation (SRIRI) project. She was living in one of the affected households that were moved from a rehabilitated railway area in Cambodia. Sok now lives in one of the resettlement communities outside of Phnom Penh and recently began her quest for environmental change in Cambodia.
Previously, the community suffered from a plethora of waste management issues. A majority of these were caused by a lack of knowledge about how to care for the community.
Cufa started working within this community at the end of last year, implementing the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) part of our SRIRI project. This involved waste management campaigns informing people about good hygiene practices and how to correctly dispose of waste, encouraging the use of local landfills. Similarly, waste collection services were implemented and the negative implications of poor waste management were outlined.
Members of the community are invited to join the O&M committee so that everyone can contribute to making a difference to their local community. In the beginning, Sok did not join as she did not see the benefits. However, after a few months, she came back. She had started seeing that the reduced amount of waste meant less flooding in her house. Once she understood the benefits she became extremely involved, attending O&M training and building a new drain near her house
Flooding around her house has now been severely reduced thanks to a reduction in litter and the upgraded drainage. Sok now spends her spare time collecting plastic bottles around her community. She also sells them to make extra money, maintaining this is just a bonus on top of a clean community.
Sok has become an encouraging figure within the community, inspiring others to work towards environmental change in Cambodia!
In March 2016, Sokhney Kean was given the opportunity to join Cufa’s Village Entrepreneur program and start her own chicken farm. The program helps participants set up their own business. This involves a constructing business plan, becoming members of a local village bank, and providing regular training and support.
We asked Sokhney a few questions about her Village Entrepreneur journey so far and this is what she had to say!
What made you join the Village Entrepreneur program? "It was very tough being a widow and having limited education and skills. I have two sons as well. I just wanted to support them and also fix up our house so it doesn’t flood every rainy season."
How have you benefitted from the program? "I have learnt more skills to run a successful microbusiness. The biggest benefit is that I can now better support my son’s education. I recently purchased two new bikes for them to ride to school and new school uniforms. I am now adding more soil around my house and building new walls to prevent flooding."
What are your plans for the future? "I would like to connect a public power line to my house to provide electricity for my family."
Do you have any last words? "Yes. I am very appreciative of the support. My business has really developed and it has helped me support my family. I just want to say thank you to my Community Investor."
To find out more or support a Village Entrepreneur: ve.org.au
As a participant of Cufa’s Strengthening Resettlement and Income Restoration Implementation (SRIRI) program, Torn Chanteth was affected by the Cambodian government’s decision to rehabilitate a disused railway track where he had been living. He now lives in one of the newly established neighbourhoods around Phnom Penh.
Due to Torn’s family situation, he was unable to finish his education and found himself working night shifts for low wages.
In February of this year, Torn applied with Cufa’s Vocational Placement Strategy (VPS) staff for employment assistance. He was given an interview with a guesthouse for the position of receptionist assistant. They immediately hired him and he was even promoted to a full-time receptionist in July!
This change has had a profound impact on Torn's life as he is now better equipped to support his wife and child financially and can begin paying off his loan. His manager has also been very happy with his performance and expanded his duties within the workplace.
Torn acknowledges that the help of the VPS staff has changed his life. He told Cufa, “I would like to thank the VPS staff. They provided the opportunity for myself and other affected participants to find jobs.” Torn would encourage anyone else in his community to seek assistance from the team.
Cufa works throughout the Asia-Pacific, focusing on education, employment, enterprise and developing economic institutions. The assistance that is provided throughout disadvantaged communities gives people a hand up, not a handout.
Last month we shared some insight into Cufa's Livelihood Enhancement for Economic Development (LEED) in Cambodia, by meeting one of the LEED project officers. Through skills development training in areas such business, agriculture and life skills, participants create an increased prospect to enhance income opportunities and enabling safe banking, and access to affordable loan opportunities.
Today, we meet LEED participant, Saren Kon.
Saren, please tell us a bit about yourself. I'm 35 years old, and am married with two children. I have a son and and a daughter.
Where are you from? My family lives in Krang Tamom, in Kompong Chhnang province in Cambodia.
What do you do? I am a farmer, and my husband and I also have a roof building business.
What would you like to achieve from being a part of the LEED project? I would like to learn more about micro-business and expand my current business.
Thank you Saron for sharing your goals and taking the opportunity to gain valuable life skills and knowledge through Cufa's LEED project.