Meet the team
Our Softies team has grown from the three original ladies to a team of eight women. All these women are from Kompheim village or the surrounding area. The Softies program has enabled these women for the first time to earn a regular income. This provides them with the opportunity to feed their families, buy medicine and work to improve the lives of their families.
When we first met Ms Lear her house was in such poor condition that she go and sit outside whenever there was a storm as she was afraid her house would fall down on her. As a widow with grown children she would sit outside alone in the rain hoping her house would survive the storms. We were very excited to welcome Lear to the Softies program. The first thing she wanted to do when she made money was pay for a ceremony for her deceased husband who had passed for than 15 years before. This ceremony is very important in Cambodian culture and allows him to journey to heaven. She had been unable to raise enough money for this ceremony and it was incredibly important to her. The Softies program has meant that she is able to eat and help support her children’s families. As an older lady she found farming work very difficult and hard on her body. This program has enabled her to have a much better life. Lear now helps to care for her grandchildren is working to help support her families future.
Like Ms Lear Tou was one of the first three women to join the program. She was living with her husband and then three children in a small palm leaf house. She struggles to share her story even today, saying her life has changed completely, then are now are like black and white.
She doesn’t need to wait for money from her husband anymore, because the money that she gets from softies can provide enough food for her children. Her husband tries to go to work every day, but he only gets paid once a month, sometimes its longer. Before the program she often borrowed money and was always in debt. She had reached a point where due to her inability to pay loans back no one would lend her money. There was a time when she had sick children, no food and no capacity to access any type of health care. Today Tou has four healthy and happy children they are going to school and have enough to eat. Tou is working hard to ensure her children have a better life.
Ms Kavry "Go"
Go is the life of the party, she is one of the eldest women in the project and always wants everyone to be happy. She makes everyone laugh telling jokes and stories. She had 12 children, but sadly two childen passed away.
I am very happy with the softies project. Now my husband has no work, he stays home and waits for work. This is the only way for me to get money now. The money I get from the Softies helps me look after my family, it gives me rice and food so I don’t have to worry how to feed them. Before I had to borrow money to get food and people would worry I could not pay them back, they were angry and not so nice to me. Now I can pay them back and they are friendly to my family. I now have 10 children, the youngest still all go to school. I hope in the future they will not struggle as I have.
Ms Pei is 27 years old. She has two boys one is in pre school and the other is still a baby. Before the Softies program she was a rice harvester and her husband working in construction. Her husband can earn $5 per day when the work is available, but sometime work is very hard to find. Before the Sofites program Pei would earn around $2 per day for the work she did. Before she started Pei was worried that it would be too difficult for her as she was unskilled, he self confidence was very low. Even after she started she was very scared, and thought she should stop, the other women convinced her to try and now she is one of the best. Today Pei is confident in her skills and her ability to provide for her young family.
Ms Tear is 42 and she has 3 children. The youngest is 13 years old and the eldest is 21. Her husband works in construction. Two of her children are in government school. Before the Softies program she would work as a rice harvester for farmers with land. She would work for 7 hours and could earn $2 per day. Before the Softies program she struggled to meet her daily needs. Often there was not enough money to pay food, or basics like buying soap or sending shildren to school. Life is much easier now, she has enough money for food as well as things like shampoo and soap for her children. She does not worry that they will not have enough to eat any more. Her husband is very thankful that she is a Softies lady, he is happy that she can help with the program.
Ms Preach is 42 years old, she has three boys, two are at the government school and her last one was born she was lerning to make Thom Thom of Softie elephant. His name is Vesna, he was 3kg when born (A very healthy size for a Cambodian baby). Before the Softies program she had left Siem Reap, after many month with no income to try and earn money in Thailand. Both Preach and her husband were corn harvesters in Thailand for around one year. Sadly they leaned the hardway that this is no way to earn an income. She is very happy to be a member of the Softies team as it means that she can stay with her children. Before she left for Thailand her life was very difficult, she could only earn $2 per day and struggled to find any regular work. She now earns a regular income and can support her family.
Ms Hout is married with three children. Her youngest is 8 and the eldest is 13. All three children attend government school & the HUSK school. Before the Softies program she worked as a construction laborer. This involved carrying heavy cement & passing it to workers for up to 8 hours per day, as two four hour shifts – in the 2 hour break she would wash other peoples clothes. When work was available she could earn $2.50 per day. From washing the clothes she could earn several dollars per week.
Her husband also works in construction earning up to $5 per day but its irregular. To get construction work they would leave their home early & travel 18km by bike to Siem Reap. Before the Softies program they did not have enough money to pay for food or medicine for their children. She never had enough money for rice. With the Softies program she is very happy, before she could only buy a small amount of rice – maybe one kilogram. Now when she buys rice she can buy 5 or 10 kilograms. For the future she wants all her children to finish university and to have good jobs. She hopes that she can always continue as a Softies lady and build a better future for her family.