Self reliance

Amongst its methods, Ockenden's work is in seed funding for projects to develop disaster resilience and rural self reliance. For example, there is some seasonal migration, where local people move to urban areas when there is less work in the countryside and then move back to the countryside for harvest and cultivation seasons. In many cases, rural communities are becoming less able to provide adequate agricultural produce or fish stocks.  This can result in families and even whole villages moving to less populated areas to re-establish themselves.  

People's needs can be so great that they take huge risks to make ends meet.  An example would be migrant workers being helped to develop their skills to become more self reliant.

Case study: improving the lot of migrant workers

Sewing trainee/graduate: Roeum Sarai

Ms. Roeum Sarai is thirty years old and has been married for five years to Mr Rav Lei who is thirty one, they have one daughter who is five years of age. As a temporarily measure the couple live with their parents in Kouk Leap village, Sangkat Makak, Sereisophon Twon, Banteay Meanchey Province. They will continue to live with them until they can save enough money to build a small house on a plot of land (6mx10m) they currently own in the same village. They have 0.1 ha of rice land and 0.1ha of Chamka land.

Roeum depends on farming her land and collecting tamarind leaves and crabs to sell.  She can only produce enough for food 4-6 months of the year. To fill the food gap, she has to borrow four bags of rice from lenders in the village. For each bag she borrows she must pay back one and a half bags.

When Ockenden met Roeum for the first time at the beginning of the project activities, her situation had become even worse. Due to a mixture of issues including a bad harvest, ill health in the family and the extortionate interest on the borrowed rice, Roeum's choice was to work as an illegal seasonal migrant worker in Thailand for around three months. This is a highly risky option. Daily there was the risk of being shot or arrested by Thai authorities when crossing the border.  For risking her life she would earn around $100.

Roeum wished to be trained in some vocational skills so she could make a living in her village. Her dream came true when AFEC selected her and other nine women who were migrant workers to receive sewing training supported by COSECAM through Ockenden Cambodia. Sarai received a total of $175 to buy a sewing machine and a plastic chair and many types of materials.

After studying hard on a three month sewing training course she graduated from the course and gained enough skills to start sewing at home to make some additional income to support the family. Currently she makes clothes for a wholesaler who brings new cloth and takes her hand made products to sell at a Thai market on the border. She also makes new clothes and repairs old clothes for the people in her village. On average, she makes an extra income around $1 a day.

Ms. Roeum Sarai said “Since I have gained the sewing skills, I have a hope for myself and my family’s future because I have now become able to use the skills to make an additional income to support my family. Even now the average income I make is still low, but this business suits a woman like me who wishes to do other things at home including looking after my daughter and not to taking anymore risks in having to do the illegal border crossing. Besides doing my other work, I make efforts by practicing new styles. When market demands improve again, I will have enough skills to provide a good service. One day I know we will be able to start building a little house for my self and most importantly, I will no longer have to risk my life doing the illegal border crossing. Many thanks to the donor”.

Further case studies include pig rearing, cow banks, rice seed funding etc.  This site is currently being rebuilt and new case studies are being added.