Dum Ream is 72 years old and is raising three grandchildren on her own.
She describes her story as, “their father passed away and their mother remarried so I look after them now. They all go to school. It is very difficult for someone older like me to look after young kids but they are my grandchildren so I have to take this challenge on.
“I am a member of the older people’s association my village. I really like the association meetings but sometimes if I have to work that day or feel ill I send one of my grandchildren to the meeting and then they tell me what happened in the meeting. I have many friends at the association and we talk about our problems, our work and we share how best to care for our grandchildren.
“I tell others always that all children are different and that there is no recipe for raising them. But by sharing our problems we feel better and we always advise each other. The association and HelpAge also organise health camps every 2 months and I get my medicine for hypertension from these camps.
“HelpAge has also been helping with the school fees and clothes for the children. If HelpAge was not around I would be heavily indebted and have to take out lots of loans.
With the USD 20 HelpAge gives me every 3 months, I am able to buy rice.
“I earn my living by making rice noodles. Through the older people’s association I also got a loan of 20,000 riels (USD 50) for my rice noodle business. They only charge 2% interest but I will pay it back as soon as I can. I sell them in front of my house as I no longer have the energy to carry them over long distances. They sell for about 500 riels but if I had the strength I would go door to door to sell more noodles.
“I do this because I want my grandchildren to have an education. All I want for my grandchildren is for them to be educated. I want all of them to complete their studies so that they can succeed. I have seen in the past that those that are educated are the ones that get work and can succeed. I would prefer to deprive myself so that my grandchildren can succeed. I will continue fighting for them till the day I day.”
Dum Ream’s grandson, 11 year old grandson, Heran lives with her and says, “I go to school in the next village and we study writing and mathematics. Mathematics is my favourite subject but I like playing games with my friends too. I miss my grandma very much when she has to go for work. I love her from the bottom of my heart and she has taken care of me since I was very young. She looks after me and gives me cake and noodles to eat whenever she cooks it.
“She looks after me when I am sick. She also buys me medicine which makes me better. When I have a fever she holds my hand when I have to go for the injection. She takes me to school. She is my mother.”