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Feature: A Family with Disabilities Faced Many Hardships, Then Found Success Farming Organic Vegetables

TAKEO: A husband and wife with disabilities in Takeo Province have succeeded in agriculture by growing organic vegetables and sharing their knowledge with other local people, who have changed from discriminating against persons with disabilities to seeing the husband and wife as a model family in the community.

Twenty-nine-year-old Eam Sophea, is a farmer who lives in Angkunh village, Pichsar commune, Koh Andet district, in Takeo province. She was born with an arm defect, while her husband has a form of scoliosis. Even though she and her husband have disabilities, she said she has never given in to any difficulties she faced, and has worked hard to develop herself into a model farmer in the community by growing organic vegetables and sharing her agricultural knowledge with others.

She said that before she started farming, her life was very difficult because she did not have a job, despite applying for many positions. "When my husband and I got married, we could not migrate abroad to work outside because we faced a lot of discrimination due to our disabilities,” she said.

Sophea and her husband worked hard to support their family through farming. She first started growing food for the family after receiving a plot of land from an NGO and expanded the cultivation until she was able to start selling vegetables to other villagers.

She said, "At that time, we first thought about growing vegetables for the family. But when others saw my family growing vegetables and eating them, the villagers around my house began turning to me to buy my vegetables, and I started growing more vegetables.”

In 2020, Sophea joined World Vision’s Mase2 project by growing organic vegetables and selling them to the farming community. Through this project, she developed her abilities in cultivation, planted many kinds of crops, received agricultural materials and also gained techniques for caring for natural crops.

She said, "Once we joined the project, we were guided to various training courses. I was able to distribute agricultural materials to my family, so we expanded our vegetable growing. When we grow vegetables, we can have a life that may not be prosperous, but is easier, and the villagers in my community were able to see the ability of my family.”

She continued that in her farm there are many kinds of vegetables such as cabbage, soybeans, and yellow watermelon, which can provide her with an income of 40 to 50 thousand riel per day.

Through her struggles and success, Sophea was able to win the title of Outstanding Farmer in the Community.

"Do not pity the disabled, but value the disabled, so that they have the courage to struggle like me. Even though my family has disabilities, I can grow my own vegetables and live without migrating abroad to earn money,” she said.

Currently, Eam Sophea is a leader in sharing knowledge about agricultural production to the people living in her community. She is also a beacon of encouragement to persons with disabilities. She wants to help unemployed people in the community turn to growing organic vegetables like her.

Sophea's husband, Phal Sophy, expressed his happiness and pride to his wife, who struggled in farming and wished to share her knowledge with others.

"For me, I'm happy when she wants to do something that will make a difference in the family, as well as to share it with other people who have not done anything,” he said.

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