05 Jul From Sleepless Nights to Hope-Filled Future – Food for the Hungry
Today, Rith looks at her family’s future filled with hope. She believes her children will one day escape poverty for good and achieve their God-given potential. But she didn’t always feel this way.
Stress, anxiety, and worry consumed this vulnerable mom’s heart that she literally could not sleep at night.
Rith and her children live in an extremely impoverished village in Cambodia. Until recently, their average income was just $1 a day. This extraordinary financial strain alone would be enough to discourage any parent. But there was more:
The Challenges Continued
- There were no latrines or sources of clean water in their village. As a result of poor hygiene and sanitation, including filthy drinking water, disease ran rampant. Rith and her children were constantly sick, racking up bills for doctor visits and prescriptions. Her 10-year-old son, Navin, had asthma, which required additional medical treatment.
- Food was hard to come by. Rith had no land to farm or raise livestock. So she and her children ate what they could buy. They chose what they could affordable without regard to nutritional value. And sometimes, they ate nothing at all.
- Debt put extra pressure on the family’s already tight budget. Rith and her husband had taken out a loan to build a small hut for the family to live in. That money didn’t cover the costs that resulted. So Rith’s husband became a migrant worker in Thailand in order to repay the bank and meet other necessary family expenses. As a result, Rith was left to manage the children and household on her own.
- Education fell down the list of priorities. Like many families in her village, Rith waited until Navin turned 7 before sending him to school to save on costs. Rith could read and write a little herself – a notable achievement in a community where 65% of adults are illiterate. But her skills were meager, and she struggled to help him with homework. Navin didn’t learn to read until the third grade, the highest level of education offered at the local schools. Beyond that, most students dropped out, which made escaping poverty even harder.
Heavy Burdens Become Sleepless Nights
“I was anxious constantly and could not fall asleep most of the night. This made me become even more stressed,” Rith remembers. To get even a little rest, she said she finally resorted to taking a sleeping pill.
But when Rith’s children received the gift of child sponsorship, these weights were lifted one-by-one.
Hearts Filled with Hope
Everything began to change when FH entered the community. Navin received the good news: A compassionate child sponsor had chosen him! Through the gift of sponsorship, Navin would receive many blessings, including nutritious food, clean water, and education.
FH regularly conducts home visits with sponsored children to assess needs and make sure children and their families are getting the support they need on their journey out of poverty. During these visits to Navin’s house, FH teams in their community observed that Rith had too much on her plate. They encouraged her to take advantage of FH programs designed to help mothers like her.
No Longer Facing Life Alone
Rith quickly found the help she needed in hope-filled programs including:
- The community Saving Group taught her valuable lessons in saving money.” I now know how to manage my budgeting and borrow money for my family’s business start up,” she says.
- Agricultural training gave her the tools and knowledge to grow organic vegetables for food, raise animals, and create nutritionally well-balanced meals for her family.
- Hygiene training taught her to prevent many illnesses her family had experienced.
- And perhaps Rith’s favorite was education training. This gave her tools to strengthen her children’s learning at home. She now volunteers to train other parents in these skills.
‘My Life Has Been Transformed’
Rith and her family are overwhelmed at how dramatically their lives have changed for the better. Since her son became an FH sponsored child and she began to participate in these hope-filled programs, she says the biggest change has been “in my family’s mindset and behavior.”
“My life has been transformed,” Rith says with pride. “We have enough money to buy food, send my children to school, and save some money in a saving group to put toward expanding our business.”
That business is farming. The money from the Saving Group along with what her husband sent made it possible for Rith to buy land for a farm. Today, her family grows cassava plants using the farming techniques FH taught her. This year alone, she earned a profit of $2,300. Rith has also earned additional income raising chickens, which bring in $100–200 every three months to meet additional family expenses.
Leading the Way
Rith has become a leader in her community. She encourages parents to invest in their children’s learning. She’s even set up a learning center for her children in her home, which she opens to other neighborhood children.
“My neighbors acknowledged us as a model family in the community,” Rith says. “There are many children who come to my house to play and learn after their classes. Because I’ve done so well in this volunteering role, the community leader and FH staff have selected me to be on the Safeguarding Committee of the Community.”
Full of Hope for the Future
Rith feels lighter and more joyful. The future for her family is brighter and hope-filled.
“Now we live our lives with confidence after gaining new knowledge and skills,” she says. “Being involved in community development has provided happiness, love, and smiles.”
As for what’s next, Rith isn’t worried. She’s got big dreams and a plan to achieve each one. “I hope that I can settle the bank payments, save some money to improve the farm, and that my husband can come back from Thailand and we can live and run our business together in the community.”
“Then we can generate more income to support our family’s needs. I also hope to see my children and other children in the community go to school regularly, get a higher education, and have a bright future.”