Heang has eight members in her family. She stopped studying in grade 11 as her parents couldn’t support her. Then she worked as a housekeeper. Heang liked sewing since she was young. One day, she had a chance to learn a free sewing class, but due to a short training period, she couldn’t use her skill to run her dream sewing business at home. Then she got a job as a seamstress, making bags and some other handmade items. Heang didn’t like the job as she wanted to run her own sewing business at home, but she still worked there for the money.
One day, Heang was arranged by her parents to marry a man in her village who she didn’t love, so Heang refused to that as she already had a loved one. Her parents got angry with her and kept forcing her, but she still disagreed and asked them to marry a man she loved. Although her parents didn’t happy with that, she finally decided to leave her family to live with a man she loves at the age of 21. She did not feel happy to do that with her parents, but that was only one of her best choice. Heang is one of the amazing women who dare to fight with her family on the marriage arrangement.
After living with her partner for a year, she had a daughter, so she stopped working as a seamstress. She just stayed home, looked after her daughter and did housework. So the family expenses relied on her husband who works as a housekeeper and earns less income. They started to have a bad financial situation. However, after her daughter was 1 year old, Heang went to work again as a housekeeper to help her husband. Two years later, she had another daughter, so she needed to stop working again. Her family expenses had increased, but she couldn’t go to work as she needed to take care of her two daughters, so her family had a more big problem with financial.
One day, through our staff outreach, we met Heang at her small house and asked her if she was interested in our sewing program. Heang was happy to hear that because she wanted to improve her sewing skill, so she can set up her business at home. However, at first Heang hesitated to join the program because she was concerned that her husband disagreed and she didn’t understand like the old school, but after we talked about our sewing program and we let Sampheas, one of our seamstresses shared about her experience, so she stopped worrying about that. And her husband is a good man, he supported his wife’s decision.
Heang was very happy to learn sewing again, even though she traveled around 30 minutes to study every day, she had never felt tired with a goal of setting up her dream sewing shop at home.
After just three months, through her talent and a great attitude, she was chosen to become our seamstress, making products for us. She was very happy to start earning income. After completing our sewing course, Heang was fully confident to set up her dream sewing shop at home. And a few months later, with support from her husband, she could also set up a laundry shop at home.
Through attending our sewing program, Heang has achieved her dream. She is currently working with us as a seamstress, running her own sewing business and laundry at home. She is very proud of herself now as she can help herself and more importantly, she can prove to her parents that what she had decided to choose a man she loves is right because she is now living in a happy family with her two daughters.
“When I attended a sewing class at HHA, I have improved my sewing skill a lot. I meet new good people. Also, I gained a lot of knowledge, especially about parenting and money management.”
JOIN US TO EMPOWER MORE WOMEN LIKE HEANG TODAY!
Pchum Ben or Ancestors’ festival is one of the longest festivals in Cambodia, lasting for 15 days. It is the Buddhism religious festival, which is celebrated every year on the 10th month, Pheaktrobot of the Khmer calendar (which is in September or October). It is also one of the very special festivals for Cambodians as they get three days off from work and this year the national holiday fell on 27, 28, and 29 of September. It is very special because it is the time for someone who works far away from home go back to meet and enjoy with their families and relatives at their hometowns.
What are the meanings of Pchum Ben Festival?
The word ‘Pchum or Brochum’ mean a meeting or gathering, and the word ‘Ben’ means the ball of rice, so Pchum Ben means that large numbers of people gather together at the pagoda to offer food including the ball of rice to the monks. The 15 days celebration is actually divided into two, from the 1st day to the 14th day, is called “Kan Ben Day”, means that the villagers from each village take turn to offer food to the monks”, and the last day is called “Ben Thom or Pchum Ben Day”, a huge crowded day, that all villagers from surrounded pagoda come together to offer food to the monks.
All Cambodians always remember and understand that Pchum Ben is the festival that they offer food to the monks at the pagoda and dedicate their good deeds and food to their parents, and their relatives who might be born in the bad places, especially, if they are born at the Beta place, one of the bad places, where the Beta ghost are suffered from starvation or many other conditions. But according to the article of Mr. Song Siv, there are three meanings of celebrating Pchum Ben Festival:
- To dedicate the good deeds/food to the Beta ghosts who they might be their parents or relatives, so they can reborn to a good place or have food to eat.
- To do good deeds for themselves, so this will bring them in return as living in happiness and prosperity in the present life and next life (after they died).
- To make good unity between people and people in the community as well as the whole country
Why they celebrate Pchum Ben Festival?
In the ancient time, this festival is specially celebrated to offer food to the monks who just stayed in the pagoda during the rainy season for three months because this season the monks could not go asking for alms due to difficulties of walking on the flooded, slippery and bad roads. Later on, the festival is celebrated for only 15 days due to a busy work of people, which they celebrate this festival for offering food to the monks, to dedicate their merits to their parents, their relatives, and ancestors, and doing a good deed for themselves. Buddhists really believe in Karma, they believe in the word “If they do good deed, good things will be returned, if they do bad deed, bad things will be returned”, which is not only in present but also for their next life as well, so celebrating Pchum Ben is a must-do for most of Cambodians.
How people celebrate Pchum Ben Festival?
During the first 14 days, villagers in each village, or individuals or groups take a turn to offer food to the monks at their pagoda. Each day, they buy food from the market and cook at the pagoda and some villagers bring from homes. Also, they also make the ball of rice (made with sticky rice and sesame), which called Bay Ben. People get up in the very early morning around 4 pm, bring their Bay Ben to the pagoda to get the bless from the monks and then take their Bay Ben to spread on the ground to offer to the starvation Beta ghosts who they believe they can eat that rice. Then they prepare breakfast and lunch for the monks, listen to the monk chant, monk Dharma speaking, and monk blessing. At the end, they dedicate their merits to their parents, relatives and their ancestors who have passed away.
The 15th day, the last day of the festival which is called Ben Thom or Pchum Ben is the special day because all families, parents, and children bring food, a bunch of flowers, Bay Ben to the pagoda and offer to the monks.
We feel strongly about continuously providing our staff with new knowledge and skills to perform better in their jobs. Each Saturday, we hold workshops so we can have open communication with our staff and also consistently increase their skills.
Our staff learns about topics such as teaching methodology, child protection, teamwork, management, leadership, and other general knowledge to assist them to better their jobs, keep them motivated, and their professional lives. All our workshops are held by our staff, governing board members or professional Khmer volunteers.
This year, our staff has attended 18 development workshops as follows:
1. Managing Performance
2. Sales and Fundraising Essential
3. 3-Day Bootcamp for managers and senior leader
4. Networked Leadership
5. Leadership Summit
6. Starting, growing and scaling a social enterprise
7. Money Management
9. Goal setting
10. Cambodian Culture
11. Smart Parenting
12. Teacher Training
13. Road Traffic Law
14. Labor Law
15. Taxation law
16. The benefits of eating fruits
17. The Food of the mind
18. Physical health
These workshops have seen the quality work at Human and Hope Association improve greatly, and we strive to continue to improve on this.
“It is new to me as my previous workplaces, never have a regular staff development workshop like this. There are many benefits for me through attending the workshops. I have gained new general knowledge and skills to better my job. It reminds me of what I have learned. Also, I feel great with my teamwork as we learn and share from each other.” Mon – our new Education and Community Assistant.
“The staff development is very important for me because I gained new general knowledge that I have never learned, which I call it soft-skill that improve my thought and professional behavior at work and my personal life.” Lida – our new Accountant
A huge congratulations goes to our Education & Community Manager, Salin Loeum, on winning a 2019 Diana Award for his tireless work to educate Cambodian children so they can break the cycle of poverty.
Salin volunteered at Human and Hope Association for two years before earning a minimal salary. His dedication and selflessness since co-founding the organisation in 2011 is truly an inspiration for a man who has grown up in poverty. For eight years, Salin has been at the forefront of the development of his community, contributing to the education of over 500 disadvantaged children.
Salin grew up in poverty in Pursat, in rural Cambodia. His family struggled to survive day-to-day in a country that was slowly recovering from the aftermath of a mass genocide that had killed 2 million people (a quarter of the population). Despite his family’s financial struggles, his father enrolled him at school at age six, where he studied in an old building made of palm leaves. He was the subject of corporal punishment, which made him determined to become a teacher when he was older who would treat his students with patience and respect.
Moving to Siem Reap when he was eight, Salin always came top of his class, as he wanted to receive the free study supplies that came with this recognition, enabling him to stay in school and alleviating the financial burden from his parents who had sunk further into debt.
This determination led to him graduating from high school in 2014, a year when only 27.5% of year 12 students nation-wide passed. Salin then began studying at university on a scholarship through Human and Hope Association’s program, choosing to study a Bachelor of English Literature so he could become the best teacher possible, and afford children in his community the quality education he didn’t receive.
We are so fortunate to have Salin on our team, and are thrilled that he has been recognised as an outstanding young person who is selflessly creating and sustaining positive social change in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales.