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A day with the Bounsoms

The Bounsom family sits cross-legged in their one-room home.

Life at home, with the Bounsoms.

5 AM – Rise and shine: Because this family of 8 lives in one 10 by 4 metre, singe-room home, when one person gets up, they all get up – besides, there is much work to be done!

5:15 AM – Morning chores: The family’s day begins with joint responsibilities. Ka, the second-eldest daughter, cleans the house, steams sticky rice for breakfast and boils water for drinking. While she does this, her siblings fetch more water from a nearby spring and her mother, Khae, cooks breakfast. It seems like a lot of work already, but they’re only getting started.

6 AM – Breakfast: The family takes the quiet early morning time as a chance to fuel up for their busy day ahead, and sit together before going their separate ways.

7 AM – Setting out: The youngest three children (Lone, grade 2; Leud, grade 5; and Pheng, grade 3) attend a local school, while their older siblings (Ka, 19, and Keum, 17) and parents (Bounsom and Khae) go to work in the fields or perform logging.

Ka is literate, but had to drop out of school at age 5, when her parents could no longer afford her schooling. Keum dropped out in grade 4. Keo, the eldest sibling (at age 25), has a cognitive impairment and never attended school due to inaccessibility. She is the only family member that stays home each day, where she assists with housework.

The Bounsoms stand in front of their shack home, with hills in the distance.

The family stands proudly outside their home, nestled in the hills of Nga.

8 AM – The workday begins: It usually takes the parents and eldest siblings an hour of walking to reach the rice fields. Once there, they perform physically demanding labour through the morning.

Though the family owns the small plot of land, they are unable to produce enough to sustain themselves throughout the year. As such, they often must rely on farming neighbours’ fields or additional work, like logging, to provide enough income for the family.

12 PM – Lunch: The family pauses for about an hour at a little hut in the field to eat some lunch. Sometimes they collect water to drink from the stream while they are out. The water is untreated.

1 PM to 5 PM – Fieldwork turns to foraging: The family works until around 5 in the evening. On the way back home, Bounsom sometimes goes fishing in the Nga river or to hunt wildlife for meat, in order to collect food for their dinner – there is rarely enough food available for them to plan more than a day in advance. Meanwhile, Khae and her daughters use the time to collect firewood and wild vegetables, as they walk back home. They will add what they find to their dinner meal to add bulk and some nutrition.

7 PM – Home at last, but still some tasks: Though finally back home, their working day is not yet done! Together, they prepare whatever vegetables they can (and meat, if they were lucky enough to catch something). By this time, the younger children have already returned from school and are busy cooking rice for the whole family.

8 PM – Dinner: The family enjoys the fruits of their labour: dining on whatever they could collect together, relaxing for a moment and discussing their days.

9 PM and on – When the sun is gone: The youngest children complete any homework they have – often a struggle without light, proper supplies and little assistance when tough questions arise (Khae and Bounsom never had the chance to complete primary education themselves – making it difficult to help).

Here’s to brighter days ahead

Every day presents new challenges for families in Nga, but your support is helping to increase opportunities and offer new – more promising – ways of life.

Your Community Sponsorship is helping pass on much-needed skills and resources to families like the Bounsoms so they can escape from poverty, forge new paths of progress and begin to build better lives. And with that, we’d like to pass along their warm appreciation, well wishes and words of thanks.

The Bounsoms smile from their yard.

A heartfelt “Thank you!” from the Bounsoms to you.

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