How Holt is empowering women and children in Cambodia.
Holt International hopes the water jar we recently provided *Nai will help her change the world.
But for now, we just hope it helps her get to school on time…
Every morning, 13-year-old Nai fetches the water, takes fertilizer to the field and tends to her family’s four cows in the poverty-stricken Chhouk district of Cambodia. If these tasks take too long, as they often do, Nai misses her ride to school. Sometimes, she walks the long distance and is able to join her classmates. Most often, she stays home and helps her family with the rest of the daily chores.
With aspirations of attending college and becoming a teacher some day, Nai can’t afford to miss out on the very lessons that she hopes to one day teach. But in Cambodia, impoverished families often rely on their school-aged children to help earn the income needed to survive.
At Holt, we applaud children like Nai, who sacrificially step up to help their families make it from day to day. It’s our belief, however, that children shouldn’t have to sacrifice a proper education – and their dreams – to assist their struggling families.
To help Nai and children just like her, Holt began partnering with Cambodia Organization for Children and Development (COCD) in February 2013. COCD believes that vulnerable children are better protected and cared for through the social and economic empowerment of women. Having initiated programs that help to empower women and young girls in India and Haiti, this was a mission that Holt could get behind. To achieve this goal, Holt and the COCD have established community self-help groups for poor, female-headed households in the Chhouk district. The self-help groups serve as education tools, teaching women to contribute to a savings plan. Holt helps provide the groups with income-generating projects and teaches technical skills and lessons on proper household care and hygiene.
It’s Holt’s hope that the self-help groups will assist in answering the poverty and hunger problem in Nai’s severely impoverished district.
Described as a quiet and thoughtful girl, Nai is the youngest of six children and currently lives with one of her older sisters. Nai’s father died when she was just a year old. Her mother remarried and now lives nearby with her new husband. Nai’s mother is the leader of their village’s self-help group. This has allowed the family to receive loans, and teaches Nai the importance of saving money and being involved in a community. Nai does very well in school. She loves to read, and her favorite subject in school is Khmer literature.
To help Nai get to school on time, we gave her family a water jar. According to case workers in Cambodia, the water jar has significantly reduced the amount of time Nai has to spend getting water each morning. Now, Nai has time to complete her morning chores and catch her ride to school.
In December, an educational sponsorship program was also added to the women empowerment program in Cambodia. This project will support the education of vulnerable children of female-headed households by providing school uniforms and shoes, school supplies and school bags. The program will also conduct semester meetings with children and set up academic goals. Sixty children under the age of 16 whose mothers belong to the COCD self-help groups will be supported through this sponsorship program.
Just as Holt believes that every child deserves a home, we, too, believe that every child deserves a chance at a proper education
It is our hope that by giving something as simple as a water jar to a family in need, we can bring about a chain reaction of empowerment and change.
A water jar helped Nai get to school on time. Today, in school, she will gain the knowledge she needs to one day attend college and receive her teaching degree.
From there, we hope Nai will go on to educate and empower girls who were once just like her. And maybe, just maybe, the poverty that has stricken Cambodia for far too long, will be no more.