M’Lop Tapang works with many local schools in the area through programs that help children from poor families get an education. When they visit, the teams often ask the teachers who are the poorest families they know. That is how we heard about Sopheap*.

Sopheap and his wife live in a small village about 5km outside of Sihanoukville; off the main highway and down a muddy dirt road. There are about 20 families living in the area, most in small houses with tin walls and tin roofs. Sopeap and his wife have 7 children – 4 girls and 3 boys. Their oldest child is 25 years old now; the youngest is just under one year old. Sopheap works as a day laborer when he can. Sometimes he earns $50 a month, but most months less than that. He had no job when our team met him.

The team met with Sopheap and his wife to find out what were their biggest problems. We know that by helping mothers and fathers in their roles as parents, the children will benefit. For Sopheap it was the lack of a steady income. He was an ideal candidate for the Outreach team’s small business set-up program.

10 days ago Sopheap received two small pigs from our team. With M’Lop Tapang’s support he had spent the previous couple of weeks building a pig pen. Sopheap will raise the pigs and in a little less than a year they should grow and produce litters of their own, earning Sopheap a healthy profit when he sells the new piglets – a small pig will sell for about $60 each. He then starts again to produce more pigs. As part of the payback plan, Sopheap gives two baby pigs from the first litter back to M’Lop Tapang, who then gives them to another poor family to start their own small business.

In the last few years M’Lop Tapang’s Outreach Team has helped more than 200 families to start up small income generating ventures so that they are able to better provide for their children’s needs. Sometimes it is helping to set up a small farming project like in Sopheap’s case, for other families the small business have included such things as starting a laundry service, a sewing business, or opening a small shop in a local market.

*name changed for confidentiality