Mao’s journey from struggling to afford water to saving $400 per month

February 2024


Mao, a new mother, was unable to afford basic necessities like food or water after giving birth. She was staying in a hospital when she faced the stark reality of having two kids while living in deep poverty. “I looked at the people around me; they all had food, but I had nothing. I felt so sad,” she shared.

Mao was also struggling to send her daughter, Lyza, to school. She couldn’t afford school materials, and Lyza fell behind her peers. Mao remembered a moment when Lyza returned home, asking if she could quit school and start work to help the family. Mao firmly responded, “No. Even though we’re poor, you have to study. You must get an education so you’re not illiterate like me.”

Mao was fed up and knew she needed to take control of her family’s life. She visited the commune office in Ou Char Commune, seeking assistance. The Village Hive team responded by organising a financial assessment and literacy training session. Following the training, a collaborative effort led to the creation of a business plan. Today, Mao sells fruit and vegetables at her local market, and she consistently saves between $13 and $14 daily. “I can’t believe I have the opportunity to start my own business. I feel so happy that it makes me cry.”

Thriving at public school, Lyza shared, “Since the Village Hive helped my mum start her own business,  we have enough money to pay for my schooling. Our lives are a lot better than before.”