New Beginnings in Cambodia
Thanks to our wonderful supporters, LWB has been able to deliver over 500,000 pounds of emergency food supplies to children and their families during COVID. As we’ve headed out into new locations, we’ve met some truly remarkable people along the way. Today, I want to introduce you to a very special family from rural Cambodia.
Each day, as our wonderful tuk-tuk drivers pick up children and make the rounds to our primary schools, they are continually on the lookout for those families who are most at risk for hunger and malnutrition.
A few months ago, one of our drivers passed a group of children who appeared to be living in a tent in an open field. He immediately pulled over to make sure the family was okay.
It was then that we met Grandma and Grandpa M and their six wonderful grandkids (their grandson is inside the tent in the above photo).
They told our driver that the two of them had ended up living in such a vulnerable situation after Grandma M had become severely ill. The only way Grandpa M could help his wife recover and pay her medical bills was to sell their small plot of land and house. To Grandpa M, becoming homeless was worth everything if it meant his wife’s life would be saved.
Shortly after, however, the couple found themselves also raising their six grandchildren…with no job or income to provide for them.
Grandpa M quickly improvised and put together this shelter in order to keep his grandchildren protected from the heavy Cambodian rains.
Despite this temporary shelter, things were extremely difficult, and the entire family was very grateful that LWB was able to provide them with emergency food supplies for the month. Although Grandpa M told our team that he wasn’t normally comfortable accepting charity, the wellbeing of his grandchildren was paramount.
Grandpa M was determined to provide for his family, no matter what it took. He came up with the idea to make charcoal, a grueling task that involves cutting down brush, building a dirt mound, and then simmering the wood for days.
He showed us his hands which were cut and burned from the process.
Our team told Grandpa M that we have several “kitchen houses” at our primary schools and that the LWB cooks need fuel every day to prepare hot lunches for students. We agreed to purchase his charcoal for our schools so he could earn some income for his family. A win/win for both of us!
As we became better acquainted with these grandparents, we learned that they had big dreams to set up a garden so that they could sell vegetables in the market for a living. Grandpa M showed our Cambodia director, Leng, how he had fashioned a homemade irrigation system out of a branch of wood and two watering cans. He would make the long walk to a lake in the area to fill the buckets and then return to water his seeds. Needless to say, this work was extremely time-consuming.
The next day, our team had a surprise for the family. They returned with some irrigation supplies, including hoses and a small pump. They also brought more seeds for them to plant.
The grandparents are incredibly hard workers. They cleared the field and immediately started planting.
They have tended their garden carefully, and each time our team returned, they could see the results of the family’s labors.
Just look at how well everything was doing after just one month!
We are overjoyed that everything they planted has done well. Now, they are able to sell vegetables to our school lunch program and also have enough to sell in a local market, too. They make enough funds each week to provide food for the entire family.
When we asked whether the children were receiving an education, we learned that their home was just too far from the government school. Another special delivery was soon made to provide new bikes to the children so they could enroll. That was a very special day, for sure!
Their story gets even more exciting. When one of our wonderful supporters heard they were living in a tent, they donated to build a small home for them as well. Nothing too fancy, since Grandpa M wants to earn his way, but enough that the children now have a safe, dry home to call their own.
Our team stopped by again this week, and Grandma and Grandpa M continue to do well with their vegetable sales. They pass on their deepest thanks to everyone who supports LWB and families like theirs. We give our deepest thanks as well!
As someone who tried my best to grow a simple tomato plant last year with absolutely disastrous results, I just have to share a few more photos of what this determined family has been able to accomplish together.
Look at these amazing mushrooms they’ve grown as well.
I definitely know who I’m taking gardening lessons from the next time I’m in Cambodia!
Today we are celebrating new beginnings…no matter one’s age. We’re also giving thanks for devoted grandparents who will do whatever it takes to ensure their grandkids have the best future possible.
When we first learned about this special family, we were so concerned for their wellbeing, but now we can all rest our hearts knowing that for this sweet family…love is certainly homegrown!
~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer