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Connexus : Issue 41
Making a connection Contributing to the village entrepreneur program has its feelgood factor, but seeing the results in person is a deeply emotional experience. By Anne CAsey When Sally Philbey came face to face with the Cambodian man she and her Sydney Credit Union colleagues have been suppor ting under CUFA’s Village Entrepreneur Program, it was like finding a long lost family member. “I know that sounds strange,” she says, “but I had only ever seen his picture and I felt a connection – like I knew him.” The Village Entrepreneur program enables ever yday Australians to change the lives of people in poor communities in Cambodia and Timor Leste who are trying to make ends meet on less than $2 ...it never occurred to me that, by donating such a small amount of money... I was being such a big help and making such an amazing difference to a whole family. a day. Participants become Community Investors who provide vital capital for villagers’ small businesses. Philbey was taking par t in CUFA’s Cambodia Leadership Challenge when she got to meet Ka Phart, the villager she and her colleagues have been suppor ting each month since mid-2009. Ka, the father of eight children, is a member of the credit union in a small community in Takeo province, more than two hours by bus from Phnom Penh. He and his wife have a stall selling Khmer noodles. When K a joined the Village Entrepreneur program, he was earning about 25 cents a day for seven hours’ work and could afford to send only one of his children to school. Philbey was excited to meet him and curious to see what difference the program had made to his family. “ It was fantastic,” she says. “ Four of his children are now working and three are attending school regularly. One is too small to attend just yet. I was ver y happy to see and hear that his children are getting an education.” Sally Philbey with her vE and family 46 Connexus COMMUNITY