In this guest post, Christine Murphy, our International Programs Director, shares the story of a special woman she met on her recent trip to Cambodia.
It is the stories of those like Beth that inspire us to work with local Cambodian partners like the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center (CWCC). This is work that helps vulnerable women change their lives for the better. Admiration for these women and the work is predominantly what I take away from these visits.
Meeting a remarkable woman
For women like Beth, life has always been difficult. Living on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, the 48-year-old mother is not so different in age to myself, but her circumstances could not be further from mine.
She spent her childhood living through one of the most difficult periods of Cambodia’s history, had limited access to education, and was married and widowed young. She was left with three small children to raise, all while facing significant discrimination because of the illness that took her husband’s life, which has also affected her.
The weight of poverty
When I visited recently, she said that there were many times over the years she could have given up if it wasn’t for her children. She lived in a shack that was in such bad condition that she had to take shelter in the chicken house when storms hit. Her eldest son dropped out of school to take a job as a labourer to pay for a surgery she needed. Tears stung my eyes when I heard these stories, but I tried hard not to let her see.
We started working with Beth 18 months ago, and she told me her life has improved so much since that time. Through financial support and training, she has been able to rent a small plot of land and now plants a commercial quantity of vegetables that she sells at an agreed price to a middle man, who takes them to markets to sell outside the nearby factories. She rotates what she grows depending on the season and now has a small but reasonably steady income. She has used some of this money to build herself a new house.
Hope for her children
One of the local leaders was so impressed with Beth’s hard work and diligence that he even gave her his old television for her new house, which looks oddly out of place. Her standing in the community has also improved.
Beth is now smiling and hopeful that her two youngest children will now manage to finish high school. That is what she is aiming for – a brighter future for them.
Donate now to help more women like Beth to improve their income and escape poverty.