She is close to my age but our lives differ greatly.
In 1998, when Mrs. Laech Phoeun’s family left the Khmer Rouge, they owned no property and lived in a tiny house. They hand-hoed soil to plant rice and vegetables and raised a few chickens, yielding barely enough to survive.
Over time she bought a sow but disappointment reigned with each arrival of piglets. Eight to twelve would be delivered; only two or three survived. Mrs. Laech Phoeun lacked technical expertise to solve this issue.
In 2008, Food for the Hungry Cambodia entered partnership with Mrs. Laech Phoeun’s community and her village voted her to be one of five on the Village Development Committee (VDC). She says, “As a VDC member I have attended training and learned a lot from FH Cambodia such as health – body hygiene, household hygiene, typhoid and malaria; and agriculture – vegetable planting, compost, chicken raising, pig raising (how to take care of them, feeding and giving vaccines).”
Those are the facts*. Easy to breeze through. Hard to comprehend the magnitude of change for this woman and her family.
But I met her.
Yes, her new home is lovely and the old house is now the pig’s quarters. We walked through her collection of robust, healthy sows and rejoiced over suckling newborns, toddler piglets, teenagers and those fattened for market.
She proudly described how she de-worms and vaccinates her animals, mixes her own master food (a scientifically formulated, all-natural mix that increases immunity and pig well-being), and runs her own rice mill.
And that’s what caught my attention.
This woman is a success story. She is regarded by villagers as a model citizen and lovingly called “the pig lady”. Financially her family has experienced a reversal from subsistence to abundance. But she hasn’t lost sight of how she got to this place.
Mrs. Laech Phoeun knows that local rice farmers need their product processed, a cost many struggle to fund. So, she set up a mill where husk and bran layers are separated from kernels. She provides this service free to her fellow villagers in exchange for keeping the husks which become feed for her pigs. Brilliant, innovative and generous.
I find myself asking, “How am I giving back to my community?” Am I looking for ways to come alongside others, not so far on life’s road, and share from the abundance God has lavished on me?
With love and gratitude,
P.S. Mrs. Laech Phoeun’s story will be featured in an upcoming edition of Christianity Today.
*Facts for this blog taken from report by FH Community Facilitator Mrs. Chan Sophal, July 22, 2015
In The Midst