Fifteen-year-old Savan from Cambodia thought her life was nothing more than being a child labourer at the rice field. Thanks to social worker Prak Vuthea, Savan is now hopeful about her future. This is an inspiring story about a child and her caregiver. 

Child labour

I never thought I could do something better than that.

Veng Savan (15) from Cambodia

“As the oldest child in the family, I had to bear a lot of household chores and looked after my other five younger siblings. My father is a poor farmer, and my mother stayed does not work due to her illness. We barely had enough food for everyone. When I was thirteen, our family situation was getting worse. I had no choice, but dropped out of school and worked at other people’s rice field.

“For the last two years, I worked all day long either in the flooded parcel of land planting rice, or under the hot sun harvesting. I was paid € 4.65 per day for my labour. I never thought I could do something better than that. Without a good education, I could not find a good job, and it was too late to go back to school.”

“Now, my life is different. I am learning to become a tailor. Even though I did not go to formal education, I now have a professional skill for life. Within only five months, I know how to do proper measurement, hand-draw the design and sew the clothes. I even made some clothes for my brothers and sisters, and they loved it! In the near future, I hope I can become a tailor shop owner.”

 

She was not happy selling labour at the rice field, but her family situation forced her to work there.

 Prak Vuthea, social worker

“Savan was identified as a child labour when my team and I conducted a semi-scaled assessment in the village. During a visit to her house, we met her parents and realized that they were not aware of the adverse consequences their child could face when she dropped out of school very early."

hild labour is an ongoing challenge in this village. It has happened from one generation to another. Due to poverty, some parents borrowed money from other family. As a method of paying off the debt, parents sent their children to work at other people’s rice field. The children did not have the chance to study in higher grade. Most importantly, labourious work affects greatly on their physical development and emotional well-being.

Through the project supported by Terre des Hommes Netherlands, we could provide the right kind of assistance to the children. Some are placed to learn at motor repairing shop or barber shop whereas Savan now is being trained at a tailor shop in the village. She is also provided with a monthly allowance to cover some basic expenses and a sewing machine. She is now equipped with a skill which will improve her life in the future.

"Working as a social worker, it is such a privilege for me to work directly with these children. There is nothing I would want in return besides wanting them to grow up with a skill used to build their own life. Savan is very determined to open her own shop, and I believe she will achieve her dream in the future," said Vuthea.

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