“Nothing can compare to this feeling” – ISF’s efforts to support families into work

Many of our students’ families live in a state of ongoing economic crisis, which is the primary reason many children drop out of education – to work to support the family. Family members are often unemployed or earn a meager and unreliable income by scavenging for rubbish to recycle, begging, washing clothes or selling flowers in the street. Our research shows that this irregularity of income is what traps many families in extreme poverty, with little hope of breaking out of this cycle. Many of our students have known times when they have been unable to afford to eat.

In order to keep as many of our students in school as possible, we need to deal with this difficult reality, and so we link these parents or guardians with employment opportunities that provide improved working environments and better income. In addition we provide vocational sewing and handicraft training to family members who don’t have a specific career or skills. Supporting families to improve their circumstances in a dignified way is an important cornerstone of our community work.

We have seen remarkable results already. So far, over 60 parents from our two communities have found jobs through our family employment programme, most of them are now working as cleaners, security guards or in garment factories. We have supported 25 people to get loans to set up their own small businesses, such as selling Khmer Cakes from home.

Every one of the families graduating from our employment programme has seen their income increase but, perhaps more importantly, that income is reliable. This allows the families to manage essential expenses such as food, rent and electricity much more effectively. Our students have reported back to us that before they often went hungry at home, but now they know that they can rely on getting a meal.

One of the parents we worked with said, “We are so excited with this opportunity and we never thought before that we would have our own business like this. We will make ISF proud of us. There is nothing to compare with this feeling.”