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Thursday, September 25, 2014

A field of possibilities

The transforming power of water, seeds, and farm animals is clearly evident among the poorest families of Cambodia’s Pursat Province. Water quenches thirst. Seeds grow into food. Farm animals provide labour and food.

But there’s another, equally transforming benefit of having clean water, seeds, and farm animals - freedom from fear and worry.

Nara and his wife Chek used to live in a state of fear and worry. Providing for their 6 children, as well as Nara’s mother and older sister, was always a struggle.

The family of 10, all of whom live under one roof in the village of Kab Korlanh in Pursat Province, did the best they could to grow enough rice to eat. Yet despite their effort, the 1.2 hectares of land they own only managed to yield around 2,000 kg of rice per year.

After selling about three quarters of their harvest to pay back loans they took in order buy seeds, fertilizer, food, other items for their farm, they would end up with only enough rice to last 4 months. This meant 8 months of hard times where there was never enough to eat.

To make up the shortage, Nara, Chek, and Nara’s mother and sister would work as day labourers, planting and harvesting rice in the fields of other farmers. The small income they managed to earn, however, was never enough. Nara and Chek would be forced to take yet another loan just to make sure no one in the family went hungry.

Today, however, it’s a completely different story.

Nara and his family no longer live in a state of fear and worry. Their precarious situation has been replaced with freedom from fear and worry – all because of the support they received from friends of HOPE International Development Agency who gave to transform the lives of Nara and his family.

Through this support Nara and his family learned new techniques for growing rice. They also gained access to a variety of rice seed that can be planted up to three times per year as opposed to once per year when using the rice seed that is traditionally used in the area.

The family’s first harvest this year yielded 4,000 kg of rice, more than double what they managed to harvest in the entire previous year. This year alone, they’ll plant and harvest a total of three times, rather than just once.

Nara and Chek are overjoyed at their success. They know that their entire family will have more than enough to eat. Today, Nara doesn’t worry that his children will not have enough to eat. The happiness and pride he feels as a father able to provide for his family is so profound that he has a hard time putting it into words.

The benefits of gaining access to training and better rice seed don’t end with simply having enough to eat.

The extra income Nara and Chek now earn as a result of selling excess rice from their three harvests has enabled them to buy a bicycle for their children, giving them a more reliable and much safer way to get to school. For Nara, it’s not so much the bicycle itself, but rather, the fact that he and Chek can now afford to improve the lives of their children. Being able to get to school means that the children will have a chance at a much better life than Nara and Chek experienced when they were children.

All of this has resulted in Nara and Chek no longer living in fear and worry.

All it took to transform their lives was some training and a new variety of rice seed. This family of 10 people now has a new outlook on life and the 6 children are excited, rather than fearful, about their future as an entirely different set of possibilities have begun to sprout.

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