“We were so poor, we couldn’t even afford to buy rice”, says Eng Sa, looking back. Now Sa has a house and water pump thanks to the donations of Stuart Paver, a British tourist. “We would only eat once a day, and in the monsoon we had to cover the children with plastic bags to stop them from getting wet and cold.”
Although Sa’s vegetable plot is little more than a patch of earth, a slab of concrete, a piece of bright blue PVC strung up with twine and the donated hand pump, her plants are thriving and she is able to sell the surplus at her local market, earning her an extra $25 a month.
For Paver, becoming a part of the Sa family has been life-enhancing. “Being able to make a difference to a whole family has been incredible, especially when for the price of a new PlayStation you can build a family a new home. Everybody likes luxuries, but if I had to choose between buying something for myself that I don’t need or building 10 new houses, I know which would give me greater pleasure.”
Clearly moved by the experience, Paver is planning to return to Cambodia soon --– this time with his children. “I’d like to show my kids that happiness is not reliant on items or possessions, but on appreciating what you have, however little that may seem to other people.”