SIM BUNG SENG: Concrete Maker
Sim Bung Seng is a former Khmer Rouge soldier and was disabled in 1987 when he stepped on a mine. In 2001 he was demobilzed and so lost his army income. At that time he was 37 years old and had a wife and 4 young children to support. He tried to raise money by buying fruit from the market and selling it for a profit in front of the garment factories. However, he could barely make ends meet.
Then one day some friends told him about Veal Thom. He came and had a look but conditions were terrible! It was all jungle and he couldn't see how he could possibly support himself.
She was bored and lonely and, to add to the problem, the whole family contracted malaria. Fortunately, assistance was received from King Sihanouk and Samdech Tep Vong, who provided some food and equipment.
However, they still struggled to get enough to eat. Conditions improved in the following year although the absence of roads created difficulties for him. As he explained, "When you've got a prosthesis, it's difficult to walk".
Last year, when WRF/PACE were conducting job assessments, he suggested concrete making as he could see there was a need. It was agreed and he and another villager were sent for training. WRF/PACE also provided the equipment and materials for them to get started. Sim Bung Seng, then became the supervisor, so when two more people joined the team, he was the one that trained them. Unfortunately, one of the members of the team had to leave for health reasons. He had a full leg prosthesis and found it difficult to bend. He also had other health problems.
Although they have been making concrete for only six or seven months, the business is already successful. Sim Bung Seng and his team make concrete posts for house foundations and also circular concrete sections which are used for pipes, wells and toilets. As of now, they produce to order for customers both from Veal Thom and some surrounding communities, including NGOs. In the future he hopes that they'll be able to expand production and increase the team size.
Sim Bung Seng seems to be happy and fulfilled and admits that his current income of $2.5/day is a considerable improvement on his previous earnings. Then he was only earning $1/day at best. When asked what his hopes where for his own future, he said that he wanted to be able to do the best for his children.