Kong Srey Nouch has learned to sew and works hard every day to be able to send her children to school. She wants them to get new skills and thereby a chance of a better life, as she did.
All parents hope that their children will have a better life than the ones bestowed upon themselves. Kong Srey Nouch is no exception as she is sitting there by the sewing machine. She is working on yet another wallet of recycled material. She has tied her dark hair back with a pen so it does not get in the way of her sewing, and she is working with pace and focus. She has learned how from DanChurchAid’s Cambodian partner, Mith Samlanh/Friends.
Kong Srey Nouch lives in Andong together with her husband and their three youngest children. She has lived in the village since 2006 when the government cleared the slum area where the family was living in Phnom Penh and moved the locals 20 km outside the city. Back then, Andong was just a field but nothing was done to help the family get back to a normal life.
DanChurchAid works with MS/Friends to build up the area and today Andong is a growing community. Women like Kong Srey Nouch are offered vocational training and their new skills give them a better opportunity to provide for themselves and their families.
“My day is filled up with work and my children. I get up at 5 am to cook and get my children ready for school. While they are gone I work either at MS/Friends’ training centre or from home. I work again in the evening once the children are sleeping”, tells Kong Srey Nouch.
“I earn enough to send my children to school like other children at their age. I hope I can earn enough to be able to send them all to the university. Two of my daughters just began at the university, my oldest son has an apprenticeship as a cook and I have four daughters in primary school. My youngest is one year old and she still stays at home with me”, she smiles.
Kong Srey Nouch used to make a living selling papaya salad by the Mekong River in Phnom Penh but she had to stop because the police kept clamping down on the street vendors. She was without a job for two years before she got into contact with MS/Friends.
“It was a very difficult time. We did not have enough money even for the necessities like food and clothes. Fortunately, MS/Friends offered me training so I could learn new skills. The first thing I learned was to make beads out of paper to use for different jewellery”, she remembers.
Today Kong Srey Nouch can make all the different purses, wallets, jewellery and clothes that MS/Friends makes at their vocational training centre and sells through their own shops and networks. She makes about USD 30-38 per week.