Christmas chickens change lives in Cambodia

Nov 18, 2022
When Cheng Pok started raising chickens, she didn’t know how her new business would multiply hope in her community of Saang, Cambodia.

As one of the largest suppliers of chickens purchased by Canadians through World Vision’s Gift Catalogue, her farm has become a major source of hope and support for other families benefitting from their new feathered friends to climb their way out of poverty.

It’s a story Cheng Pok knows all too well. Raising chickens provided by World Vision gave her a fresh start after suffering some terrible personal tragedies.  

After the death of her husband, Cheng Pok fell into alcoholism, hitting rock bottom when she was forced to give up her children for adoption. She knew something had to change. After an intervention through World Vision counselling, she was able to get back on her feet and get a fresh start for her family.

After receiving 12 chickens from World Vision, Cheng Pok joined a savings group that has helped her nest egg grow. Her stature in the community grew along with her savings and she is now one of the leaders of a chicken co-operative with egg incubators for chicken farmers just like her. Over time, that clutch of just a few chickens has grown to a flock of more than 100.

Best of all, Cheng Pok was able afford raising her children again and brought them home. Nearly all her children have completed school and have started raising families of their own.

From funding school to expanding small business, here’s a glimpse into how these chickens are changing lives in Cambodia.

Chickens hatch hope

Sum Mon is determined to give her children the opportunities she was never able to get. The 41-year-old mother of two is a member of a World Vision-supported Savings Group. Being part of a savings group helped her start a rice cake business, as well as buy and raise chickens to earn income for her family.

“I still remember that I usually skipped school and eventually dropped out,” she said. “This made me and my husband struggle to push our children to graduate.”

Sum Mon, a Cambodian woman, makes rice cakes in banana leaves, holding them open in her hands.Sum Mon makes rice cakes using a family recipe from her mom. A small loan from her savings group was pivotal in kickstarting this new business. Photo: Brett Tarver

She knows the income from these businesses will be pivotal to supporting her children’s education all the way through university. Sum Mon’s own parents were unable to afford her school fees, and she never got to learn how to read and write.

Sum Mon continues to dream of growing her rice cake business.

“One day, I hope I will have a new bicycle or motorbike to travel further away and  I can and sell cakes any place.”

Chickens for the family

Vichet, a young father of two daughters, understands the struggle of creating a better future for his family. For him, receiving the gift of chickens and a rooster means he can be more present for his children.

Vichet and his family smile together with their crate of chickens at their feet.Before working on his own farm, Vichet earned a daily income from 20,000 Riels to 30,000 Riels ($5-7.50 USD) working as a cashew farm labourer—nowhere close enough to cover daily costs for his family. Photo: Brett Tarver

Before cultivating his farm, he worked for paltry wages in a cashew farm, away from his children. His wife, Yun, works at a mango processing plant, earning wages that barely help cover living costs.

Now, he works on his own farm, while taking care of his children.

“Married life and family are a huge responsibility,” he said. “What makes me happiest is when I see my wife and children smiling. I just want my children to be happy and do well in school.”

Chickens for community

The journey out of poverty isn’t a feat done alone.

Cheng Pok’s co-op extends beyond supplying chickens to her fellow farmers. As one of the senior leaders of the co-op, she’s at the helm of training and uniting individual farmers in her rural community.

A crowd of farmers and their families stand behind crates of chickens, smiling and waving.Working to get out of poverty is a journey best done with a community—Cheng Pok’s co-op helps strengthen economic sustainability for her whole community. Photo: Brett Tarver

The group became a source of community support for farmers and entrepreneurs alike, providing training and supplies.

With strength in numbers, Cheng Pok’s co-op can provide low-interest loans to local entrepreneurs and give greater selling power to individual farmers.

Chickens for Christmas

Positive change for families like Cheng Pok, Vichet and Sum Mon began with chickens—chickens from generous supporters like you!

This Christmas, give a gift that lasts beyond the holiday season—a gift as simple as chickens can multiply into an impact that lasts for generations.

Give chickens from the Gift Catalogue

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