10-year-old Doeurn is pictured with food from the emergency food support package provided by World Vision Cambodia
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From despair to hope

It looked hopeless... but then World Vision sponsors brought hope

Children in Crisis

COVID-19, conflict and climate change are having devastating effects on children around the world. Already struggling to survive, hunger one day can become starvation the next. World Vision sponsors are a life-line in these times.

Meet Doeurn and Sum

Life hasn’t been easy for 10-year-old Doeurn, whose mother Sum is the sole breadwinner for her three sons.

It’s difficult being a mother and a father at the same time; it’s such a big responsibility,” says Sum.

And COVID-19 has only made Sum’s juggle to protect her boys harder.  “A mask is more expensive than 1kg of rice. I could not afford it,” Sum says.

Doeurn and his family received an emergency food kit to help them weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
Doeurn and his family received an emergency food kit to help them weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

Poverty and hunger have been a constant in Doeurn’s life.

Some of his earliest memories are of the small rented room in a town near the Thai border, where the boys stayed while Sum worked long hours in a factory. It was a world away from their hometown in rural Cambodia. Sum took the job for the money but she didn’t make enough to buy nutritious food so they were often sick. And she couldn’t manage to send them to school. Then one day, “I arrived home and my second son had a very high fever. I was scared I would lose him.”

Medical care

Sum left her job at the factory and started working as a nanny so she could be there for her sons – even sewing clothes at night to help with their costs. But money was still very tight, especially when her own father became sick and she had to pay for his medical care.

Sum quit her job as a nanny and took her boys back to their rural community to help care for him, but sadly, her father didn’t recover. With his passing, they had nowhere to go but a vacant piece of land outside the town, where they set up a shelter. To Sum, it seemed like their life had reached a new low point – but worse was still to come.

Finally, Sum found a seasonal job in a rice field and managed to send the boys to school for the first time.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The borders closed and Cambodia’s agricultural exports stopped overnight. Sum lost her job.

I couldn’t sleep because I knew that in a few days our rice supply would finish and I had no money left to buy more. We ate less to save food for the next day,” says Sum. Doeurn and his brothers foraged in the forest nearby for food but it wasn’t enough.

Constant threat

On top of that, COVID-19 was a constant threat – Sum couldn't afford masks for her family, to protect them against the virus, and there was no money for medical care if they became sick.

Sum reveals, “I was hopeless and thinking about suicide because I had nothing but my three sons.” 

But Doeurn and Sum’s story changed dramatically the day he was sponsored. It was the first time in a very long time that they had hope.

“We were down to our last little bit in the rice jar, just enough to make porridge, when we received food from World Vision” - Sum.

Thanks to sponsors, Doeurn and other children in his community received an emergency food kit, which included 25kg of rice, noodles, canned fish, salt, soy sauce, fish sauce and vegetable oil. They also received masks and COVID-19 prevention training.

Doeurn, now a sponsored child, shouted: “I will eat two plates of rice!

World Vision staff delivered Doeurn and his family an emergency food kit to help them weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
World Vision staff delivered Doeurn and his family an emergency food kit to help them weather the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the first time, Sum and her sons have support to get through the tough times. For the first time, they can see hope in their future. They are starting a vegetable garden to grow a continual supply of healthy food to eat and extras to sell for income.

We can survive,” says Sum.

COVID-19, conflict and climate change are causing a humanitarian crisis for children.

Could you be the reason a child like Doeurn will have a brighter future, instead of an uncertain tomorrow?

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