See The Vision
Hear The Vision
Feel The Vision
I know first hand what it feels like to be raised in a home without a father. As a boy I watched my mother try to raise three kids on her own and witnessed the pressure and strain that it took on her. Ever since then my heart has gone out to single mothers and every Christmas time we deliver home made gingerbread houses and hampers to fatherless homes across Melbourne.
In 2013 I flew to Cambodia to run some quality assurance checks on our wells and meet the people we were helping. On one of our visits I met a mother with
5 children called Ang. Her husband had recently left her for a younger woman a few villages down and so now Ang would need to raise 5 children on her own.
Unlike Australia, there is no pension or child maintenance to help Ang so she was in a very difficult situation.
The family were already living in extreme poverty before the father left, now life would darken and become even more desperate. The eldest son (only 15) decided to leave school and venture to Thailand to find a job.
For many Cambodians Thailand is the big smoke and the land of dreams but sadly many young people end up lost and disappear into a hole of trafficking. When the son arrived, the police cornered him and informed him would need to pay them protection money in order that he would not be trafficked. The young boy with no money now had an instant debt that grew by the day. Meanwhile, things became so desperate back home, Ang ventured towards the Thai border in hope of getting some work herself.
Returning to Australia, I couldn’t get Ang and her family out of my head knowing that the life expectancy of a woman in Cambodia is 62, a man just 58. I couldn’t shake the image of this single mum sitting in a dilapidated shack trying to feed 5 kids (one was a 9month old baby) and live on her own for the next 30 years.
We had to do something! And so we did.
Through Greenaid we launched the opportunity to build Ang a brand new house, and the funds were raised in only a few weeks! We didn’t want to provide shelter alone , we needed to make Ang and her family self-sufficient. Our partner in Siem Reap tracked her down and told her the good news, at first she cried but then she laughed. She changed direction and made her way back to the village where her mother was caring for the children. Our partner also tracked down the son and he also returned to help with construction!
Next our team flew over to Cambodia to build the house from scratch, and I mean scratch! There wasn’t a power tool in sight, or a hammer! Machettes and axes were the order of the day. The team removed the little old existing shack and built a brand new house that would easily accommodate Ang, her Mother and children.
Ang squealed, “It’s very big!”
To make the house ‘better’ we added solar powered lighting, a rain tank, pig stalls complete with pigs and some free range chickens to provide much needed eggs.
We talked to Ang about what she wanted to do to earn a living. She smiled and told us that “a little road side shop would be perfect to sell cakes”.
We then tried to encourage Angs son to return to school but he was adamant that he wouldn’t. He felt the shame would be too great and so we asked him what he wanted to do. He explained that becoming a moto-taxi driver is a career that would help support his family and would allow him to hold his head high. So we set up a roadside stall for Ang and purchased a new motorbike and a trailer so Ang could go to town and purchase supplies to make her products and her son could become a moto-taxi driver!
“Better” is a word that we think about a lot at Greenaid. Ang’s family life has been changed for the better. The chief of the village is looking out for her, our partner visits regularly to make sure her plan is advancing and she is safe and the children are living a better quality of life. Our team also visit to remind them someone on the other side of the world cares. It isn’t hard to make life better, you just have to do something, anything.
This is just one story out of the Greenaid archives, YOU could join us and change someone else’s story and consequently their future.
You can be the “Better” in their lives.
Rob Bradbury is the Co-Founder and Director at Greenaid Relief.