Today’s blog honours two fabulous and resilient Cambodian women, Mai-Lin and Rouen. Both have suffered chronic ill health, are the bread winners for their extended families and are currently supported through the Siem Reap Food Bank (SRFB).
Mai-Lin is a widow, a mother of four children, a stroke survivor and an entrepreneur. The stroke left Mai Lin paralysed on the right side and unable to support all of her children, so she placed a daughter in the care of an NGO in Siem Reap.
Through Ability Fair Trade Village (AFTV), Mai-Lin learnt to make paper gift and shopping bags out of recycled newspaper. These eco-friendly bags are made from recycled newsprint and water hyacinth (handles) and were used extensively by AFTV when the shop was operating.
As a single mum, Mai-Lin is able to work from home and in the past has made enough income from the sale of bags, eggs and chickens to feed her four lovable kids and send them to school. Her daughter is now back living with her.
With the closure of AFTV due to COVID, Mai-Lin’s income has been severely diminished. Luckily, SRFB has been able to help her and her family. Mai-Lin was also one of the first to receive seedlings, plants and assistance with a vegetable garden from SRFB. The harvest will help provide some much-needed nutrients to this wonderful family.
Rouen is the kind owner and keeper of a garden, a grandmother, a basket weaver, and the tireless caretaker of her immediate and extended family.
Like thousands of other innocent victims in Cambodia, she is a landmine survivor who has suffered excruciating pain and horror. Today she thrives as a highly respected woman in her community and her strength is truly captivating and inspiring.
Women like Rouen serve as beacons of hope and reminders that people with disabilities, often the most neglected members of this society, are in fact, the strongest ones.
Maggie Padlewska, an American living in Cambodia, prepared this video about Mai-Lin, Rouen and Naret, inspirational women in Cambodia. As Maggie says “It is without question … that much needs to be done to improve the lives of the people of Cambodia. To allow them the freedom, health, education, and ability to truly prosper. In the meantime, however, women like (..Mai-Lin), serve as beacons of hope ….”