•  Posted by SCIAF
  •  17 September 2013
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Kun is 14 years old and lives in a country called Cambodia, which is in Asia. Kun’s family and village are being helped by one of SCIAF’s overseas partner organisations. Kun’s story shows how SCIAF supports poor communities in different ways to help people help themselves. Read on to find out more about Kun’s life and how your support is making a difference.


His country


Cambodia is a beautiful country in SouthEast Asia. Its closest neighbours are Vietnam and Thailand which are popular with UK tourists. Of the 14.7 million people who live in Cambodia, over 3 million live in extreme poverty on less than $1.25 per day. Life for the poor people living in the countryside can be very difficult. Many people have to grow their own food with rice being the main crop. Over 1.5 million people were killed during the terrible war that happened in Cambodia in the 1970s. The country is still recovering from this war because so much was destroyed.

His home

You’ll notice from the picture of Kun’s home, that the houses in Cambodia are different from those in Scotland:


  • The stilts are there to prevent snakes and other dangerous animals from getting into the house.
  • There’s no front door because they don’t have to worry about burglars.
  • The family's animals, such as cows and pigs, live underneath the house.
  • The family all sleep in the one big room.
  • There’s no running water or taps in the house so Kun’s family have to use rainwater or water from the well instead.

His school

Kun attends a secondary school in Kampot Province. He’s lucky because two out of every five children in Cambodia don’t get a chance to go to school. SCIAF helped to buy the building materials for the school, such as concrete and roofing tiles. Local people did much of the building work. This is an example of how we work in partnership with local communities. Kun speaks Khmer which is the main language in Cambodia. Thanks to SCIAF supporters he now goes to school and has a good chance of getting his dream job as a teacher.

Water well

Dirty water is one of the biggest causes of sickness in the world. This is why SCIAF has provided many villages with clean water. The concrete around the well stops animals going to the toilet in the water. It’s hard work carrying water and can take a lot of time too. Having a safe well in their village means Kun and other children have more time to go to school. To protect a well in this way costs about £100.

Cattle care

Children in Scotland might have to walk their dogs after school. In Cambodia it is the job of young boys to look after the cattle.
Kun can be seen picking up the manure from his cows. He puts this on the dung heap. Manure might be smelly but it is very important. Kun’s family spread it on their fields because it improves the soil and helps Kun's family grow lots more food on their farm.

"We grow rice, vegetables, water melon, sugar, pumpkins and beans."


Cow banks

Not many banks in Scotland would give you a cow! However, SCIAF supporters have helped to set up many cow banks in Cambodia.
Here's how they work:


  • Poor people often can’t afford cows. They can cost over £200 each.
  • SCIAF helps to buy a small number of cows [females] – maybe about 5 -10.
  • We then ask the village to decide who should get these cows first.
  • These lucky families receive the cows and put them to work on the land.
  • Having a cow improves their income and they can sell or use the milk it provides. They can also use cows to plough or do work on the land. This means they can grow much more food.
  • The family repay the loan by donating the first female calf back to the bank.
  • This is then given to another family and over the space of a few years everyone in the village gets a cow.
  • Pig, sheep and goat banks all happen too!

Rice bank

If a family has a poor harvest then they won't have enough food to last them a full year. This means they'll go hungry for the month or two before the next harvest. SCIAF has helped Kun’s village and other villages set up their own rice banks. These stop families going hungry. Here’s how they work:


  • The whole village supports the rice bank by putting in a few bags of the rice that they’ve harvested.
  • A village committee decides how the stocks are used – they give rice out to those families who need it most.
  • Sometimes people put more rice in than they get back but everyone gets help in the long run.
  • The rice banks are on stilts to protect them from pests and insects which can eat their way through a lot of rice!


Check it out! In Scotland we have sheep dogs. In Cambodia they have duck dogs!


SCIAF supporters have helped provide chicken and ducks to many vulnerable families:

• Ducks and chickens are a good source of food and nutrition.
• They can be bred easily and sold to provide money for the family.
• They also provide eggs which are nutritious and can be sold.
• This shows why Real Gifts such as chickens are such a great gift. You make a donation to SCIAF once but your gift continues to grow and grow and provide food and money to poor families for many years.

SCIAF thinks it’s much better to help people help themselves rather than giving them food hand outs which are quickly used up.


Kun’s friends

It's not all work though – when Kun has finished his chores he likes to hang out. He says, "I like to play football at school and with my friends." Kun describes some of the issues facing young people in Cambodia, "There are gangsters. They are unemployed youth who have nothing better to do. They block the roads, rob people and disrupt ceremonies. They take drugs and have become a big problem in our country today." Check out the picture of the Cambodian boys below, they’ve created a soft-play area and chute using the gooey mud from the rice paddies!

Photos: Sean Sprague

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