Tiny help changes widowed family’s life


Thean Chin, a 56-year-old widow in a rural village in Battambang province, has enabled her four-member family to live a better life due to micro loans from VisionFund (Cambodia) over the past three years.

The family has seen a triple increase in household income as they have more goods to sell in front of their house and farm, transforming their lives as long-time farm workers.

“Before the loans from VisionFund, my family’s life was terrible because we sold only few goods and worked at corn and soybean farms for daily wages,” recounts Thean Chin, whose husband died from liver disease in 1991. “We rarely had fish, pork or meat to eat, let alone proper clothes because we earned only 3,000 Riel (US$0.70) per day.”

“Since we received loans from VisionFund, our life has been better. We now earn 10,000 Riel (US$2.40) per day,” she adds. “We have better food like pork and our once thatched house is now roofed with zinc panels.”

Thean Chin borrowed US$125 from VisionFund in 2007 to buy more goods, fruits such as guava, and the ingredients to make Num Kou (a kind of traditional Khmer food) to sell from her stall in front of the house. She also used the loan to start her family’s own farming on 0.5 hectare for corn and another 0.5 hectare for soybean. She received her second and third loans of US$250 each in 2008 and 2009 for her micro business and farming.

Thean Chin lives with three of her children, while her married son, Phally lives independently his wife. Sen Than, her 23-year-old- son, teaches at a public school for a monthly salary of US$50 and helps with farming after teaching hours; Phalla, her 22-year-old daughter with a congenital disability sews at home; and the youngest daughter, Srey Nit, who is a 16-year-old student in grade 10 helps in the family’s micro business during her free time after school hours. “We all help each other work on the farm, and make Num Kou and work at the business at our home,” Thean Chin says with a smile.

“We are happier and we have more household assets such as a TV and CD player we bought from our increased household income. My daughter has a new bicycle to go to school.”

Thean Chin plans to expand her farming in the agriculturally-dominant Village of Chamkar Lmot, Sdao commune, Ratanak Modol district and raise pigs as another additional income-generating occupation. She also plans to buy a tailoring space at the market for Phalla and send her daughter, Srey Nit to university.

“If my income and business continues to grow, I want my daughter, Phalla, to tailor at the market and Srey Nit to complete a university course,” Thean Chin shares.
“Hopefully, VisionFund will continue to assist me in pursuing my final goals in my life. I am aging now. I just want a better life for my children,” she says with hope in her eyes.