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.
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
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.
exemplifies the power of women to change their world. She’s proof that
when you empower one woman, you can transform a whole community …