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23 June 2021 - Story

A digital unconditional cash transfer gives a child head of household big hope

Every morning, 16-year old Samnang with a long-sleeved shirt and empty stomach walks around his shelter calling out to feed his chickens. “I love my chickens very much because they are my hope”, he explains.

Thea Samnang is from Moung Reussei district, Battambang province. He dropped out of school in grade 8 due to his family’s financial difficulties. Samnang and his 5-year old brother live with his grandma, and Samnang takes on the role of the head of household, taking care of his grandma in the absence of his parents. “I stopped my study because there was nobody to take care of my grandma” said Samnang.

Mrs. Sok Yen is 73 years-old and suffers with a chronic illness.  Her four children all left her, including her youngest daughter - Samnang’s mother, who now works in Thailand. “Normally I live with Samnang’s parents, but they went to Thailand to earn money to pay back their loan to the bank (Angkar), and left two kids with me. Since Covid-19 started they stopped sending money to me and asked Samnang to stop study and take care of me”, said Sok Yen.

Recently, Samnang’s family received the Covid-19 equity fund of 224,000 Riels ($55) from the government that supported to feed the family a little better. During the 2020 flooding, Samnang’s house like many others, was also flooded and they struggled to survive. With support from Save the Children via Komar Rikreay Association and CCWC funded by ECHO, Samnang’s family was selected to receive the $50 cash transfer. With a digital unconditional cash transfer via phone was designed to give a fast transfer to the flood affected families without burdens, Samnang’s grandma was asked to give the phone number to the village leader and through a community sensitization meeting, she was told to wait for message and code. Once she received a code, Samnang as representative for the household collected the cash through his mobile phone at the nearest Wing Agent.

As soon as he was aware of this $50 cash grant for his family, Samnang immediately asked his grandma for permission to use some of the cash to buy chickens to raise.

Samnang, with a handful of rice to feed his chickens, said “I am so happy that I have a chance to raise chickens. Now I have three hens, two of them have already produced many chicks that are growing bigger and another hen is laying eggs. I have a hope that someday soon I will have many big chickens and I will sell some chickens to buy food and keep some to continue to raise them” said Samnang.

Samnang, at just 16 years of age, cooks food every day for his family. When his grandma feels better, he takes on agricultural work for neighbours to earn a small amount of money to buy food and medicine for his grandma and keep his brother at pre-school. Samnang also joins others to collect fish and make prahok (fermented fish). When he has time, Samnang goes out to find white ants to feed his chickens.

In the future, Samnang wants to continue his study if his parents return home and he wants to be a soldier to defend the country. He hopes that once his chickens grow up he will sell them and buy new clothes also.