Late last year, in a poor rural Cambodian village, Baptist World Aid Australia met a woman named Sem Rith. She told us her painful story.
One of 10 children, Rith was only in grade 2 when she dropped out of school. Her parents were just too poor for her to continue with her education.
“I had to help my family in the farm and look after the younger ones,” Rith explained. “I was not able to follow the lessons and I decided to stop. I was never able to go back.”
When you’re an uneducated girl like Rith, you have few prospects. Rith can barely read or write. And with no education to speak of, she had no hope of getting a good job.
Years later, now a mother herself, Rith was stuck doing the only work she’d ever known… growing rice. But even that was not enough.
“Rice is not very profitable,” Rith told us. “In the rural area, whatever we have, we just eat that. If we have less, we eat less. And in the seasons when we don’t grow enough rice, we need to beg from others to eat.”
This was Rith’s life. A constant struggle to survive. Every waking hour marred by underlying fear – fear of going hungry; fear for her children’s future.
And then disaster struck.
It happened when Rith was heavily pregnant with her second child and her husband was bedridden with sickness. The rains came. So much rain. Too much rain.
Rith could only watch as a huge flood devastated her village and destroyed her crops.
Her family was left with nothing.
Recently, Baptist World Aid launched its annual Matching Grant Appeal to support work that gives new, urgently needed livelihoods to mothers like Rith. Through the appeal, your gifts are matched with an Australian Government aid grant – which means they can have up to six times the impact. And, for Rith, that means six new income streams to help support her family!
When Baptist World Aid’s Christian partner in the field set up a savings group in Rith’s community, she joined.
Rith has worked hard all her life. But without the know how to do anything but grow rice, she had very little to show for it. Through her savings group she learned to keep chickens, and cows, and fish. She learned the skills to run a business. And, as it turns out, Rith is a brilliant business woman!
Today, Rith’s six businesses generate enough income to give all her children the schooling she missed out on herself.
“I am uneducated, but I want my children to be educated,” she said. “I don’t want them to be like me. I want them to have good jobs, so they would not have difficult lives like us.”
That’s why your gifts to the Matching Grant Appeal are so important. Without your support, mums like Rith can never escape poverty. Or get rid of the fear that lives in their hearts every day.
“I am very grateful for the Australian supporters that have changed my life,” Rith said. “Now I am happy, not scared, worried like before.”