Ngam Overcomes Poverty & Disability

Published on
June 27, 2024 at 3:30:23 PM PDT June 27, 2024 at 3:30:23 PM PDTth, June 27, 2024 at 3:30:23 PM PDT
Photographs by Lun Soklai 

The world’s largest minority are people living with a disability. Of the 1.3 billion people experiencing a significant disability, 80 per cent live in developing countries. 

The reality is, disability increases the likelihood of poverty and poverty increases the likelihood of disability.

This means those living with disability and in poverty face challenges unlike any other. They’re often excluded from education and employment, have unmet healthcare needs, and are at greater risk of developing further health conditions, from depression to diabetes.They’re more likely to face discrimination and to go hungry.

“Persons with disabilities encounter unique barriers, especially in accessing health, education, information and social services, and discrimination hampers their ability to participate fully in society,” the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on disabilities within Cambodia reports. “These barriers include financial constraints, stigma, isolation, mobility and access, quality of care, and a lack of knowledge about social services and rights.”

Ngam puts sanitation and hygiene training into practice with handwashing!

Ngam, a mother and grandmother living with a disability in Cambodia, knows these statistics all too well. 

Living in physical poverty, she shares, she experienced higher prices for food, lacked access to clean water, and her whole family often fell sick, further draining their limited resources.

She shares how living in material poverty caused her to experience higher prices for food, trouble accessing clean water, and frequent illnesses among her family. These challenges further drained their limited resources.

But Ngam wasn’t one to easily give up on caring for her family. She tried to plant a garden and raise chickens, but without proper training and knowledge, her efforts failed.

When her initiatives remained unsuccessful, she found a full-time job harvesting cashews. But with her daughter and son-in-law working as labourers in another province, there was no one to care for her three young grandchildren. 

At a loss as to how to provide for her family and give her grandchildren opportunities, Ngam felt the weight of the barriers to progress.

“I was not happy, lost hope, and felt depressed due to my inability to provide support for my family, particularly my grandchildren,”—Ngam

“With these challenging living conditions we had in the past, we had limited options in our lives, particularly in education. Sadly, my grandchildren have been deprived of the opportunity to receive an education due to the lack of means to send them to school.”

With the knowledge she's learned, Ngam teaches 32 community members on agriculture.

When, in 2022, she joined in FH activities through her community’s partnership, FH Cambodia helped Ngam fill the gap between her ambition and her lack of agricultural knowledge. She learned how to build a sustainable vegetable garden, make natural pesticides and compost, and how to raise chickens, fish, and frogs.

“When I started to engage with FH, my life underwent a remarkable transformation.”

Her grandchildren were enrolled in FH’s child sponsorship program and local children's clubs in Thmei Village. Their education began to transform and so did Ngam. She faithfully practiced what she learned in training sessions, and it changed her home!

I’m proud to say,” Ngam beams, “that we have access to a toilet, maintain cleanliness in the surrounding area of my home, and cook nutritious food for my grandchildren.”

Deepened agricultural knowledge and a thriving garden changed more than just her family’s diet. “Not only did I feed my entire family,” Ngam smiles, “but [I] also saved money.”

Today, Ngam is actively engaged in her community. She’s proud of her grandchildren diligently studying everyday and she’s full of hope that they will achieve their dreams. Where once her disability put her at a disadvantage, she now is a part of her community’s transformation. 

You can help more families like Ngam’s overcome poverty by joining Journey Partners and becoming a monthly supporter of transformation.

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Ngam's three grandchildren greet her coming back from school. She's proud of their diligence and progress in their studies!