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Sarun and Sophany

Location: Domnakloung Village, Battambang province

Summary: Grassroots development initiatives such as a cow bank and credit scheme provide the means for a family living with HIV/Aids to lift themselves out of poverty.

Both Sarun and his wife Sophany* have been living with HIV/Aids for over 10 years. “Before we just used to stay in the hospital all day with nothing to do,” Sarun explains. In 2008, as one of the poorest families in his village, Sarun was given a male calf from his village cow bank. He was later able to exchange the cow for two more calves, selling one to buy an air compressor machine to set up a bike repair business. In addition he received training from a friend on the skills of the trade.

“When I started my business with the air compressor machine I had less customers then now and I could earn a small income. But sometimes we faced food shortages and so the community would support me with rice from the rice bank,” Sarun explains. Consequently, in October 2012 Sarun took out a loan of 1.5 million riel (approximately US $370) from his village credit scheme, which he used to buy the equipment and materials necessary to repair motorbikes and bicycles.

Sarun’s business has now expanded from refilling air in tyres to a successful motorbike and bicycle repair stall. “Now I have more materials I am able to support my family by myself,” Sarun says proudly. Situated along the main road, the thriving business is well stocked with row upon row of spare tyres, spare parts and other materials, providing employment for both Sarun and his wife Sophany. “Now my business is going well, we can earn over 10,000 riel a day. I use 3,000 riel to pay back the community for my loan and then we keep the rest”.

Married with four children, Sarun and Sophany know first hand the benefits of learning a vocational skill. “I hope my children can learn a vocational skill and support themselves,” Sophany says.

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of clients.

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