Mrs. Soeun Phon, 44 years old, lives in Svay Chrum village, Preaek Norint commune, Aek Phnum district, Battambang province, Cambodia and is part of a family of five. Mrs. Soeun Phon is living with HIV/AIDS and also has the responsibility of feeding her two nieces and one nephew. Her 1 niece and 1 nephew are also living with HIV/AIDS. SCC project coordinator, field staff and Community Support Volunteer (CSV) selected Mrs. Soeun Phon in accordance with the 12 priority conditions into the target group of the I-HELP Project for the sake of improving her health conditions in March 2019. As a beneficiary of SCC, she has received counseling on health and key messages on taking ART medicine on time, referral support, welfare support, and animal rearing and vegetable growing techniques. She also received knowledge on gender equality, domestic violence, COVID-19 prevention, hygiene and sanitation. Mrs. Phon said, “being involved in the project and learning about HIV and agriculture, I changed a lot of my opinions and behaviors on HIV/AIDS and animal raising techniques. I was very interested in raising animals. So, I started with raising chickens because I currently have 5 chickens. I consulted with SCC staff members for helping me with this small business idea.” As a result, SCC staff members provided funds to buy 5 hens for breeding. Now she is raising 35 chickens. SCC staff members often conducted home visits to Mrs. Phon for counseling and encouragement.
An agricultural trainer hadtrained SCC staff members and SCC’s beneficiaries on vegetable growing and animal raising techniques. He also showed Mrs. Phon how to take care of her chickens. With this small chicken business, she can earn an income of 25 to 35 USD per month. However, she is confronted with many challenges: Some of her chickens died while raising and her husband became a disabled person due to a spinal fracture. Before, he picked lotus roots and water spinach from the lakes. The couple sold the vegetables and used it for feeding chickens. Moreover, he also is working for his community as a village security guard as well.Mrs. Phon continued telling us that it is very valuable knowledge and an important experience for helping her improve her health and standard of living. She claimed that she has the ability to raise chickens and provide support to her family members and that her niece and nephew are able to go to school every day. According to SCC staff members, Mrs. Phon took her ART medicine regularly following the doctor’s prescription and her house was cleaned almost every day. At present she is in good health and able to do a good job supporting her family members. In addition, she noticed that people in the community have changed standard of living. Almost all children living in my community go to school, there is less domestic violence, and people care about their health and love to eat organic, healthy foods. However, she observed that many people frequently drink wine or beer, gamble, or use drugs in her community.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic spreading in Cambodia since March 2020, the community people have been confronted with many difficulties in their daily lives. Mrs. Phon, SCC beneficiary, said that the outbreak of the coronavirus disease has seriously affected the family economy. In general, it was noted that many people experienced depression, such as despair because of losing their jobs and income, as well as anxiety, such as worrying about an invisible infection and not knowing when it will end and the situation will improve. Finally, she would like to ask for SCC and its donors to keep pursuing this project activity in order to help all people living with HIV/AIDS and the poorest of the poor in the communities to improving their standard of living. She has expressed her great gratitude and thanks to the SCC organization and the kind donors who have supported people living with HIV/AIDS and helped developing the living standard of people living in rural areas.