Tra, 8, is growing up in a farming family with her six brothers and sisters. Her family owns a plot of land, and they work very hard, but the income from working hard is not enough.
“Sometimes we were lacking food,” Tra’s mother says.
Tra’s father, Suon, decided to go work in Thailand. He was told that he would lift and move rice sacks. He thought that meant he would work on the land, but he was wrong.
On the ship
Working on the ship, he was rarely allowed to leave. He worked nearly 15 hours a day without a weekend. Suon worked hard with the expectation of earning a lot of money to bring home to his wife and children.
“They promised to pay me 8 baht per a ton,” says Suon.
Missing home, especially his young daughters, he asked permission from his manager to visit home and his wages.
He was refused.
“The site manager said that boss had not given the wages and I could not visit home,” says Suon.
Working on the ship, he was rarely allowed to leave. He worked nearly 15 hours a day without a weekend.
He kept asking over the next few months, but he was not allowed. “I was afraid that I would not be allowed to come home forever,” adds Suon.
“I told him [the site manager] a lie that my wife and child died, then he let me go home,” Suon says.
After working for nearly eight months, Suon returned home with only 1,100 baht (USD 34).
Back on dry ground
Together with a nephew who had also been working with him on the ship, they found their way home.
“I was stopped at the police check point in Thailand. They asked me for money, I did not have enough, thus they commanded me to collect recycling for a few hours, then they sent me to the Cambodian police side,” says Suon.
Because of this experience, Suon doesn’t want to see other men fall into the same trap.
“I would tell them to be careful going to work outside the country,” Suon says.
As he reflects, Suon has found that he has a beautiful life with his wife and seven children.
“I am happy to be at home working on a plot of land. What I enjoy the most is spending time with my children. I can take a rest as much as I want,” Suon says.
Suon is growing corn, lime and chillies on a plot of land in the village. Since the area has water constraints, World Vision provided the family with a water pump motor in order to increase the yield.
Carrying a yoke of trays and walking toward home, Tra’s mother returns from selling corn and Kralan (a kind of cake made from sticky rice which is wrapped by bamboo).
“Some of the corn in the pot are from our farm,” Tra’s mother says with a smile.