HI has helped Srey Nuch to set up her own sewing business | © Stephen Rae / HI
Srey Nuch has been paraplegic since she was thirteen. HI has helped her set up her own sewing business, but she doesn’t plan to stop there!
After her accident, Srey Nuch was unable to walk, and her family got into debt to pay for her treatment, leaving them destitute. Thanks to HI, she was given the means to build a new life.
When she was a teenager, Srey Nuch fell from the top of a tamarind tree, a common fruit tree in Cambodia, as she was picking pods for the family meal.
After her accident, the cost of her treatment left the family facing ruin. To pay for her care, her parents sold their belongings and borrowed money from village moneylenders. The family suffered a steep decline in their living standards, and to pay off their debts Srey Nuch's two older brothers dropped out school to find work. Since Srey was unable to stand, she also had to stop attending classes.
The family live in a stilt house and because she couldn’t climb the seven steps, Srey Nuch moved to a small outbuilding close to her family. During the rainy season, it was almost impossible for her to move around the grounds of the house.
Srey's family lives in a village near the Kampong Cham rehabilitation centre run by HI, where she has been given follow-up care since 2015. The centre has provided her with rehabilitation care, a wheelchair and orthoses.
"Srey Nuch's condition has really improved. To begin with, she couldn't move her legs at all. So I began by doing physiotherapy exercises with her and showed her mother so they could do them at home. We also gave her with a wheelchair. Initially she found it hard to move from the chair to her bed or the toilet. But she put in a lot of practice and now she moves around with her crutches and orthoses," says Vimean Srun, HI’s physiotherapist.
Assistants from HI’s socio-economic inclusion project also helped put her plans to become a seamstress into action. She was given a sewing machine and material to get her business up and running. She also joined an inclusive community investment programme which taught her how to sew. Today, she’s an accomplished young woman. She makes beautiful clothes and, thanks to her sewing business, lives almost comfortably.
Srey Nuch doesn’t feel bitter about what happened to her. “It was an awful experience, and it left me disabled, and with my family we went through a lot of pain and some really tough times," she explains. “It was hard. I couldn't move around, and that made me feel sad. But since I’ve been able to access rehabilitation services, I feel a lot more hopeful about the future. With my orthoses, crutches and wheelchair I can move around the house, go out, and visit my neighbours. I can do a lot of things without help, like washing myself and my clothes, and cooking. I love cooking! I can even go into the garden and pick lemongrass to make my favourite dish! I also earn an income from my sewing skills, which helps my family. I’m really grateful to HI and everyone who wants me to be part of the community."
Srey Nuch has decided she’s not going to stop there. “As well as sewing, I am going to start raising chickens to earn more and help my younger brother go to school,” she says with a smile.