In the 1980s, Phon Po fled Cambodia with his wife, Hin, and their five children to live as refugees in Thailand.
Phon Po works in his field.
In 1997, after living in Thailand for 15 years, the family returned to Cambodia. But their struggle was not over. They had no land on which to grow food and no jobs.
To survive, Po and Hin sold ice cream, fish sauce, and porridge, earning between $1 and $2 (U.S.) a day, just enough to meet their needs.
No matter how hard they worked, they didn’t earn enough to improve their living conditions or send their children to school.
In 2004, Po and his family felt called by God to join New Life Church, one of the churches that World Renew, the Christian Reformed Church’s relief and development agency, is working with in Cambodia.
World Renew’s goal is to help Christian churches not only to meet people’s spiritual needs but also to address the physical and relational needs of those in their community.
Located in Khnung Village in the Cambodian province of Takeo, New Life Church is working to help people improve their lives with the help of several programs.
After joining New Life Church, Po’s family decided to participate in some of the training courses offered by the church’s Farmer Field School, funded by World Renew through the Foods Resources Bank.
Po and Hin took courses on various agricultural techniques and learned that they could grow vegetables at home even if they didn’t own a large plot of land. Po and Hin were very interested in trying what they had learned, and have been gardening at their home ever since.
As a result, the family’s living conditions have changed. Instead of having to buy food, the family eats vegetables grown in their own garden.
They also have surplus vegetables to sell. From the sale of this food, the family earns up to $3 a day in addition to the income from their other business.
They now rent a small plot of land for their farming and have started raising chickens. And they can afford to send their children to school.
About the Author
Kristen deRoo VanderBerg was part of the World Renew Communications team from 1999-2016. She now serves as director of Communications & Marketing for the Christian Reformed Church.