Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Rice Mill Provides a Safe Return Home

Sophea works at a rice mill in her Cambodian village.

Sophea works at a rice mill in her Cambodian village.

A Cambodian family avoids unsafe migration thanks to a livelihood project and cooperative group.

Phall Sophea and her husband are farmers in Cambodia. They have one daughter who attends the school in their village.

Working in their family’s rice field didn’t provide enough income to support the family. The selling price for their raw rice was very cheap, but the price of milled rice and other items from the market was more expensive.

“It was a really hard time for me. I decided to go to work in Thailand through a broker,” Sophea said.

She migrated illegally as a labor worker, earning $4.28 per day for 11 hours of work. “It was unsafe,” Sophea said. “Sometimes we put dozens of people together in one taxi to run from the Thai police. We would sleep in the forest.”

Sophea keeps records for the rice business.

Sophea keeps records for the rice business.

Sophea sometimes worked all day but never received wages. Earlier this year, she had health trouble and decided to return to Cambodia.

Samaritan’s Purse is helping people in villages like Sophea’s start savings and cooperative groups in order to empower communities to care for their members and to improve their economy. If people are able to earn an income in their village they are less likely to become vulnerable to unsafe migration.

Sophea purchased shares in the cooperative and was selected as a rice seller by the group. She takes care of the rice mill installed through the project, helps people buy rice and products like bran and husks, and manages the records of income and expenses of the rice business.

“I hope it can help me a lot with income in the future to support my daughter’s studying. If so, I can stay near my family and have time to take care of them,” she said.

The cooperative in Sophea’s village has started a rice bank to serve farmers in the village. They award loans to community members, keeping the interest earnings inside the community. Next year, they hope to expand their business, create more jobs in the community, and grow their cooperative shareholdings.