Sister Chhoeurn Saboern is a farmer who lives in Doung Mear Village, Sdao Koung Commune, Ba Phnom District, which is one of ODOVs five target villages. Sister Saboern’s family experiences food shortages and poor living conditions. Sister Saboern’s mother was sick, her children are still small and cannot help her to generate income or take care of their home, which made the family’s situation more difficult.
Sister Saboern told ODOV staff that before 2015 her family’s living situation was very bad and that they were in debt about $500 to a micro-finance institution and was not able to repay it, so their family was forced to migrate to seek more work in Phnom Penh. Sister Saboern became a garment worker and her husband became porter carrying cement for construction. Sister Saboern continued that she was able to make $120 per month as a garment worker, while her husband could make $5-$8 per day delivering cement. However, this income could not cover all of their daily expenses, including food, accommodations, utilities, and medical care and medication when their children were sick. From month to month their living conditions went from bad to worse, which contradicted their original expectations that they would have better living conditions after migrating to Phnom Penh.
At the beginning of 2015, Sister Saboern’s family could not afford to struggle in their poor situation anymore, so they decided to return back home. At the same time, ODOV had begun to work in their village to implement the Livelihood Improvement Project (LIP) which was supported by World Renew. Because Sister Saboern’s family was poor she was selected to participate with this project and became a member of the village bank.
Since then, Sister Saboern participated in ODOV training on homestead food production, including vegetable production, and fish and poultry raising. The project also provided some funds for her to dig a fish pond. Sister Saboern’s family built a small house next to their fish pond and worked hard to prepare their fish pond to raise fish, as well as their garden to grow vegetables. Because of their hard work and dedication to practicing the knowledge and skills that they obtained from their training they were successful in growing vegetables, as well as raising fish and poultry.
Sister Saboern said: “I am happy because this time I am not in misery anymore, as I was in Phnom Penh. I live in my village on my own land and I can grow vegetables, and raise poultry and fish. My living conditions are not so difficult anymore because I have vegetables, that I grow naturally, and fish for daily consumption. I have reduced almost 100% of my expenses from purchasing vegetables and fish from the market. My small children are not sick often anymore because we have our own vegetables and fish to eat (access to nutritious food). Moreover, I can make 50 cents to $1.50 per day from selling vegetables, which contributes towards sending my children to school.”
This story is an example of how migration does not always improve families living conditions, but instead can make things worse. ODOV believes that finding ways to generate income at home provides a better chance of success for livelihood sustainability than migrating to seek work.