Does Helping Women Matter Most?
By julian lukins
August 4, 2011
When Thoeun was a little girl, a terrifying measles outbreak swept through her village and there was no escape. Mothers clutched their dying children, powerless to act. “I remember [thinking] that I would die too,” Thoeun recalls.
Mercifully, Thoeun survived the measles, yet she grew up with the understanding that the measles and other afflictions—including pneumonia and chronic diarrhea—were the work of evil spirits or bad karma. She prayed to her idols, anxiously petitioned her dead ancestors and begged the witchdoctor to protect her.
It would have stayed that way if it wasn’t for the day when health teachers came to Kampong Cham, Cambodia’s most populated province. It was the first time Thoeun and her neighbors had heard of germs, viruses, the concept of preventing disease and the importance of early medical intervention.
Armed with this new knowledge, Thoeun began to share the teachings with other women in her community. Soon she was training women from other villages to teach their neighbors the warning signs of potentially deadly illnesses so they’d seek help before it was too late. Today she’s a trainer for World Relief’s Care Group project, spreading life-saving health messages in hundreds of villages the most effective way—woman to woman, mother to mother.
Thoeun exemplifies the power of women to change their world. She’s proof that when you empower one woman, you can transform a whole community ...