Restoring Families and Futures with New Livelihoods

July 11, 2023 • Cambodia
Through the Samaritan's Purse livelihoods project in Cambodia, Chheng learned the value of saving a portion of his income and is able to store it in a ceramic pig he received while enrolled in the program.
Through the Samaritan's Purse livelihoods project in Cambodia, Chheng learned the value of saving a portion of his income and is able to store it in a ceramic pig he received while enrolled in the program.

How cash grants and finance trainings are bringing hope to families in rural Cambodia.

Livelihood and Vocational Projects

A Father’s Struggle

Considered the poorest family in their village, Chheng and his loved ones were often looked down upon by the community. For Chheng, a husband and father to nine children, the need to provide a stable income was dire, but finding a good job in rural Cambodia seemed impossible.

“My family was so poor,” he shared. “We always [had] a shortage of food. Sometimes, we had food in the morning, but did not have food in the evening, so, it was a very hard time for living.”

After participating in the Samaritan’s Purse livelihoods project in Cambodia, Chheng’s family (other children were at school when this photo was taken) now has enough to eat and are even saving some of their income to expand the family business.

Seeing his children and wife go without what they needed weighed heavily on Chheng’s mind–so he did everything in his power to earn money. He even left his family and migrated to Thailand in search of better opportunities for a time, but nothing seemed to help. When he eventually returned home, Chheng took every construction job he could, only earning about seven dollars a day. “It’s very hard to beg people for work,” he admitted.

As financial pressures grew, Chheng struggled to cope. “I was very worried and stressed because I had no idea how to make a better income.” Eventually, he began abusing alcohol which further strained his marriage and sunk his family deeper into financial despair. When recounting this time of his life, he somberly said, “It caused a lot of problems.”

Chheng’s wife is able to manage her family’s new store while caring for her nine children.

A Mother’s Hardest Decision

For Phors, the need to provide for her children led to the hardest decision she’s ever had to make. When her youngest baby was only 7 months old, her debt to cover essential needs had grown to $10,000 and she could no longer put off the payments–she and her husband would have to migrate in search of jobs.

Leaving their children behind with their grandmother, Phors and her husband went to Thailand where they would continue to work off their debt for 10 years, often facing unfair treatment and a lack of proper payment. When describing her life in Thailand, she shared, “It was very hard. I worked very hard and I did not receive for what I worked. Sometimes I would work for two months, and they would only pay me for one month.”

Samaritan’s Purse staff visited with Phors at her new grocery store after she received a cash grant from Samaritan’s Purse.

During that time, Phors shared that she only saw her children during the New Year holiday. “I missed my kids. I felt so much pity thinking about them, but I had no choice. I had to pay off the debt,” she explained. “I had no happiness.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm, Phors, along with many other Cambodians working in Thailand, had to return home. They spent nearly all of the money they had saved during the years abroad on the mandatory quarantine and travel expenses to get home. The situation was bleak and the years that Phors lost with her children while in Thailand could never be replaced.

Livelihood Opportunities Offered in Jesus’ Name

For countless families in Cambodia and around the world, a lack of livelihood opportunities can drive people to desperate measures. Illegal migration, addiction, and generational traumas then further entrap them into the grip of poverty. The stories are heartbreaking and all too common.

Through business and finance management trainings, families in Cambodia are learning biblical principles and hearing the Gospel from Samaritan’s Purse staff.

To help meet both physical and spiritual needs for vulnerable families, Samaritan’s Purse is offering livelihood projects that include finance trainings and business grants to help carve a path for a brighter future. For many, the results have been life-changing.

A New Day for Chheng and His Family

Surrounded by a large inventory of snacks, sodas, and cooking ingredients, Chheng smiled while showing off his new store. “The grocery store was my idea,” he explained. While he always wanted to run his own business, the likelihood of that ever happening was low due to a lack of income. However, after enrolling in the Samaritan’s Purse project in Cambodia, this dream became a reality.

In order to ensure that his children are always looked after, Chheng opened a grocery store with the business grant he received from Samaritan’s Purse right in front of his home in Cambodia.

Chheng was one of many members of his village selected to receive a $400 grant to begin a business of his own while receiving mentorship and Biblically-based lessons on finance management. When explaining what he had learned, Chheng said, “I was shocked. The trainer calculated how much we spend on alcohol, and I found out that it was a lot of expenses.”

After enrolling in the Samaritan’s Purse livelihoods project in Cambodia, Chheng now runs a business of his own and is able to provide for his wife and nine children.

He went on to share that because of this newfound knowledge, he made the decision to stop drinking as a way to handle his problems and instead poured his time and energy into building something that would benefit his entire family. Today, the store receives as many as 40 customers a day and Chheng’s family is able to put aside extra money for their future goals, such as expanding the business. “I know that God helped me. The growing of our business and living, it is God who helped me. I really thank Him and worship Him,” he shared.

In addition to financial freedom, Chheng saw amazing improvements in his relationships with his wife and children. “Before, my wife always complained to me that ‘why don’t you do some more things? Why are you always drunk?’ But through the help of Samaritan’s Purse and God, now we have a happy home. We love each other,” he explained. Chheng also noted that things improved in his community: “Our neighbors now, they respect us. They don’t look down on us anymore.”

After enrolling in the Samaritan’s Purse livelihoods project in Cambodia, Chheng stopped absuing alcohol and greatly improved his relationships with his wife, children, and members of his community.

A Business and a Changed Life

As Samaritan’s Purse staff visited Phors, they were excited to see a large crowd gathering at her new store. Phors was found smiling while selling her homemade meatballs, shaved ice, and assortment of groceries to members of her community. “Life is so different,” she shared. “There is no shortage anymore.”

When Phors enrolled in the Samaritan’s Purse livelihoods project in Cambodia, everything began to change for her. She learned about the importance of saving a portion of her income for future needs and was able to utilize a cash grant to get her very own business off the ground.

At Phors’ new business, she is able to sell meatballs among a large inventory of other products and to provide for her children.

When asked what she plans to do with all of the additional income, Phors shared that her family is preparing to build themselves a new and improved house, with the foundation already laid. She credited God for this incredible change in her life and as a follower of Christ herself, she stated, “I know that Jesus is with me.”

How to Get Involved

While the stories of Chheng and Phors are exciting, there still exists a seemingly endless number of people who have yet to experience such freedom. As Samaritan’s Purse staff members continue to minister throughout Cambodia and conduct similar programs all over the world, please be in prayer for them. Pray that those whom they are serving will come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

By partnering with local churches in Cambodia, Samaritan’s Purse staff are able to conduct business and finance management trainings for men and women like Phors and Chheng.

To learn more about these types of projects and help additional families, visit our Livelihoods landing page.

Women farming
Livelihood and Vocational Projects By improving farm and garden harvests, increasing the productivity of livestock, opening up access to markets, and providing training in business and job skills, we help households and communities make the transition from subsistence living to income generation, securing a better future.

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