For families living in the slums of Cambodia, life is anything but easy. Collecting plastic and growing vegetables in urban ponds are traditional ways that residents have generated limited income. With new construction across the country forcing the poorest people to relocate, even those opportunities are dwindling. As a consequence, rates of domestic violence, gambling, and addiction have skyrocketed and robbed communities of hope for the future.
“In my house, there are six grandchildren that I need to look after,” Touch explained. At 56 years old, she is a widow with enormous pressure to provide. When her son-in-law was sentenced to prison, her daughter was unable to care for their children alone and had to move back in with her. Without a steady job, basics such as paying bills, sending her grandchildren to school, and providing enough food for the family weighed heavily on Touch’s heart.
For 20 years, Samaritan’s Purse has been serving vulnerable communities throughout Cambodia to meet their physical needs, but more importantly, to share the love and hope of Jesus Christ. Through our LIGHT program, we are coming alongside struggling families, such as Touch’s, by training them in new livelihood opportunities that can help pull them out of the clutches of poverty. With new skills, business materials, and even financial training, many are finally able to provide for themselves.
Families are also learning Biblical values, including that they are all made in the image of God. This is an especially important truth in light of the scourge of domestic violence. The Gospel is shared during our trainings and when those we work with become Christians, we continue to ground them in the truths of Scripture, helping them learn all they have in Christ.
When Touch began attending trainings at a Samaritan’s Purse ministry center in Cambodia, she would have never dreamt of running her own business—particularly in cricket raising. Considered to be a superfood in much of the world, crickets contain more than double the amount of protein as beef, allowing this up-and-coming industry to provide for families battling poverty. For Touch, it has changed her life and the life of her family in almost every way.
“There was a trainer who came here and taught about the cricket raising,” Touch explained. “I attended the trainings, and now, I am able to do the cricket raising on my own.” As she spoke, she proudly showed off the large container of the chirping harvest she had raised, explaining that her cricket business had gone above and beyond what she could have hoped for. “I sell out most of the time,” she continued. “I clean them and then boil them. The customers really like my crickets.”
When asked how this new business had improved her life, she smiled and said “The income from the cricket raising is very helpful for me. Before, I was not able to pay [bills] on time, but through all the income from the cricket raising, I am able to pay for water and electricity.” In addition to the needed support in paying the families’ monthly expenses, Touch is also helping her grandchildren more than she ever could have before. “My grandchildren, they are able to go to school. They have the money to buy some food and their books.”
Similar to Touch, Sokun’s life in the slum was filled with hardship. As a wife and mother of five, survival had become the focus of her marriage and home. “My family did not have money,” she began. “My husband would often go out and drink.” As Sokun recounted the painful years of the past, her countenance changed and she began to sob. She explained that as the family’s money problems grew worse, controlling her emotions became harder and harder, ultimately leading her to violence.
“I was the one who did the violence to my husband,” she admitted. “When he would show up to the house, not caring about the family or our income—I would not only use physical violence, but bad words as well.” As she spoke, one of our staff paused and consoled her before she stated that her life “was kind of like zero.”
However, this all changed when Sokun enrolled in the Samaritan’s Purse LIGHT project. “I know Samaritan’s Purse through a field officer staff member,” she explained. “She went through the village doing the home visits and came to my house. She talked about the activities and what Samaritan’s Purse was doing.”
Ultimately, Sokun decided to enroll in the project and was trained in proper sewing techniques while receiving all of the essential items she would need to earn an income, such as a sewing machine and fabric. Additionally, she attended classes where Samaritan’s Purse team members discussed the dangers of violence in the home while also sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“The training is really helpful,” Sokun explained, talking about her revitalized faith in Christ and the practical overflow of that. “I have changed and am completely different. I’m not using any violence at all. My children look at me and say ‘wow, you are really different.’”
As she described this new season of her life, her joy was evident and her excitement for the future was contagious. We praise God for how this project has encouraged her in the Lord. “Whenever there are bad days, I would come to the training and hear all the Good News of the Gospel. God refreshed me—kind of like renewed me.”
Today, Sokun is able to sew as a way of earning extra income for her family through the skills and materials she received from Samaritan’s Purse. Additionally, her marriage and life at home have greatly improved. “God has put us together as a couple,” she shared. “We should live according to God’s way—God is bigger and we look to Him when we meet problems.”
We praise God for all that He is doing in Cambodia and around the world. Projects are providing income to those in desperate need and the promise of the Gospel is changing hearts and lives forever.
Across the world, every day, Samaritan’s Purse sees families and individuals who are enduring, or who are vulnerable to violence, exploitation, addiction, gangs, and more. From teaching women about safe migration to protecting children from exploitation and helping men free themselves from the bonds of addiction, your generous gifts can help restore their hope and empower individuals and families in Jesus’ Name.