Mothers of Distinction

Written by: Lizzy McCormack

Sey comes across as a quiet, polite woman. However, her sweet nature is hiding a fierce determination. Sey has a good education for a 39 year old woman living in a rural village. She studied up to grade 7, but then had to leave school to get married. Her husband turned out to be a violent man, who often drinks large quantities of alcohol. Sey often wishes that she had waited to get married and finished her education first. She now focuses all her energy on getting her three children through school.Sey and her husband work as farmers and making jars in their community. In the dry season when there is little or no work in the field, Sey patrols the village for jobs, asking her neighbors if they have any extra work for her. She often works from 5 o’clock in the morning to 6 o’clock at night. This tenacity has enabled her to send her oldest son, with only small amount of help from a donor, to attend a specialized high school in town, as he always had a knack for learning other languages.Sey quizzes her children every day after they finish school to check that they have understood their lessons. Whenever her daughter offers to help her make jars, Sey sends her away so that she can concentrate on her studies.

“I really don’t want to live and work in Thailand, but I cannot find a good job in Cambodia, so I must go there to work so all my children can finish school” says Yin. Yin has been working on a farm in Thailand growing vegetables for over a year now. She comes home every chance she can to visit her children and encourage them to finish school.“Working in Thailand is a hard life, I do not want that for my daughter. I want her to go to school so she is not illiterate”, says Yin. “It is more important that my daughter is safe than with me”.

Last year Bat’s husband drowned, leaving her alone to raise her daughter. Not only is Bat now a single mother, she is also crippled with debt from paying for her husband’s funeral.Work is hard to find in rural Cambodia, so despite her best efforts Bat cannot always find a regular job. Most days she stays at home and makes brooms to sell at the local market. Before her daughter was enrolled on Free To Shine’s program, Bat could only send her daughter to school the next day depending on how many brooms she sold.Despite her family’s difficulties, Bat is determined that her daughter will finish school and have a better life. She helps her daughter to study every night and read her library books, even though Bat only has a grade 4 education and cannot read well herself. “I am poor from having no education; education is so important. I really want my daughter to finish grade 12 and not have a hard life like mine” says Bat.

Sokphana was devastated when her husband got in a motorbike accident that left him permanently disabled. She was faced with becoming the sole provider for her family of four and an increasing number of medical bills.She borrowed money from friends, family and relatives to pay for his medical care. It has now been a year, and he can now walk a little way and help Sokphana sell Khmer noodles from their house. However, they are still paying off their loans. Despite her family’s struggles, Sokphana is a kind and generous woman. Every monthly visit she insists on giving our Education Outreach Officers bowls of noodles for lunch to say thank you for helping her put her daughter through school.No matter where they live in the world, there is one thing all mothers want: the health and safety of their families. Let your mother know that you appreciate her determination and generosity by providing another mother with the tools she needs to keep her family healthy and safe from sex traffickers.[ec_product productid="320" style="1"]