ASIA · Cambodia
Empowering mothers to save lives
Saman Buth (60), who suffered significant personal losses and trauma in the Pol Pot years, is a dedicated woman who has deeply affected the lives of those who have come across her. Her kindness and commitment has driven women to take ownership of their own future.
In 1999 she started a small NGO in Cambodia called the Children and Life Association (CLA). Its aim was to improve life and livelihood of the poor, which it continues to do to this day. In 2000, Saman created a program for Child Rights and Sustainable Livelihoods with the provision of a small fund from Save the Children UK. While this program started in only 7 villages in Mesang District, Prey Veng Province, it has expanded to more than 169 villages in the last 11 years.
Saman works with rural women through many different specialized programs, including mother-to-mother groups and child protection networks where women are empowered to look after their children. She also educates and trains women to manage their home finances as well as to become a part of a micro-finance self-help group.
In addition to these programs, Saman trains women in sustainable farming techniques in order for women to take ownership of their own food production. She also actively seeks and brings back young girls who have migrated to cities. In order to help reintegrate these girls, Saman established a vocational training centre where they engage in a range of handicraft skills. This centre also helps rural women through one-to-one mentoring and self-help groups in areas such as conserving the environment, breeding and raising animals, growing cash crops, budgeting and small business management.
Health care is also an important aspect of Saman’s work. In addition to maternal health, hygiene and nutrition programmes, she has created educational opportunities for mothers to meet and discuss the health of their children. In order to assist rural women, Saman has allowed many of them to obtain small loans in order to get proper health care. Through providing rural women with access to education and health care, women’s earnings have risen and they have become more socially and economically empowered.