Chantrea* is a 19-year-old student from a poor community in Phnom Penh. Her father is a tuk-tuk driver and her mother sells sesame balls and Cambodian donuts on the streets.
Before encountering Sunshine Cambodia, Chantrea’s parents were struggling to afford the basic necessities for their family. They both worked long hard hours to make ends meet and didn’t have time to take care of her and her sister, Mealea*. On top of this, the stress of their financial situation and fatigue from long workdays led to many arguments between the two of them, often in front of the girls.
“Before [finding] Sunshine Cambodia my parents fought very often,” remembers Chantrea, “this made me unhappy and very worried when I saw it… I became a quiet and fearful girl. I also began struggling at school.”
In addition to the ‘usual’ challenges of poverty, millions of Cambodians are affected by alcoholism, domestic violence and violence against children. The country also has some of the highest rates of school dropout and child labour in the world. Before connecting with Sunshine Cambodia Chantrea and her sister, Mealea were under a constant threat of any number of these hardships.
When their family became part of Sunshine Cambodia’s Child and Family Program, Chantrea and her sister received school uniforms, stationery, and school fees for both English and Khmer supplemental classes.
Perhaps even more importantly, her parents began attending parents’ clubs conducted by Sunshine staff. Through the clubs they learned useful lessons about parenting skills, child protection, children’s rights, domestic violence and planning for the future. These clubs are also an opportunity for Sunshine staff to express their faith, share the gospel and discuss how God’s love can be an example to us of how to love our partner and our children.
“We used to have lots of quarrels,” recounts Chantrea’s mother, “but now we rarely quarrel with each other. Our family relationship is much better than before. My husband stopped drinking alcohol and works very hard to support our family.”
Sunshine also helped them develop a family saving plan and, after some time, with their new savings they were able to buy a tuk-tuk, which has brought them a better daily income.
Since then, Chantrea’s parents have continued to work very hard to support their family but they are now able to make time for taking care of the girls and for following up their studies, and they see the importance of doing so.
“My sister and I am very happy that my family has better living conditions now”, exclaims Chantrea. “My parents work hard for our family and they also spend time with us. They do not fight like before. Now I can enjoy my life and my studies.”
In addition to enjoying her studies again, Chantrea’s results at school improved. She also began attending Sunshine’s youth’s club where she meets and plays with other students. She has made many friends at the group and is now much more confident in herself. These groups also provide an opportunity to read the bible and discuss Jesus.
Thanks to her hard work she was able to finish school and is currently studying management in her second year at a university. She still enjoys attending youth club and recently began helping as a facilitator. Chantrea’s life has been completely transformed and she credits much of it to the support she received from Sunshine Cambodia and their supporters, “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who supported me and my family.”
*Names have been changed to protect those we serve.