Football helping Cambodian youth

Read on for a great beneficiary story from Happy Football Cambodia Australia (Project J634N)

Dara first joined the Happy Football Cambodia program in 2008 when he was 13 years old. Dara’s family have always struggled financially and when his father died aged 41 in a construction accident in 2011 the pressure on him and his older brother Rithy to support his mother and two younger brothers was huge. Sadly in the neighbourhood that his family live in is one of the poorest in Phnom Penh with a lot of peer pressure to join gangs and engage in drug related activities and petty crime.

In late 2013 Dara moved to Siem Reap in the hope of finding steady work. Unfortunately this move from his home town to Siem Reap didnt work out for him and he fell in with a bad crowd and was making poor lifestyle choices. Whilst in Siem Reap he called the HFCA Country Manager Vibol and explained that he was getting in trouble with local police and was worried he might end up getting arrested and going to jail. He needed help and support.

HFCA encouraged him to come home to Phnom Penh and that HFCA would help him to find a job. Within weeks of returning Dara had secured, with HFCA’s assistance, a full time job at a local laundry earning $150 per month and joined the HFCA coaching staff in a paid capacity. Since his troubled period in Siem Reap in 2013 Dara has changed his life and has impressed everyone with his great attitude and his desire to build a better life for himself and his family.

In June of last year Dara approached HFCA with a business proposition and requested that we loan him some money. We asked Dara to put together a business plan and present his case for financial support. Dara came to our office and told us how his employer at the laundry leased a tuk tuk for $150 per month to deliver cleaned laundry to his bigger customers and Dara had been driving this tuk tuk for his employer for at least 12 months.

Dara spoke to his boss and asked him if he would lease a tuk tuk from him instead at the same rate of $150. Dara had found a tuk tuk for sale at $900 and had saved $400 and needed another $500 to purchase the tuk tuk. If he was successful he could pay off the tuk tuk in six months and then save the $150 every month from leasing to his employer at the Laundry Mat.

So impressed with his business plan and the fact he would own the tuk tuk outright after 6 months we agreed to support him, not with a loan as HFCA are not a financial institute but with a wage advance for $500.

We then asked Dara for his bank account details and he told us that he didnt have a bank account as he has no idea how they worked. Initially skeptical about joining a bank, Vibol explained that the benefits of having his own bank account. At present about only 20% of Cambodians have a bank account so its understandable that Chan didnt have one.

When he finishes his days work at the Laundry he then offers his tuk tuk services as a taxi driver. From 2013 when he was unemployed and desperate Dara now has four sources of income and is a great inspiration to everyone at HFCA.

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