Cows to keep their head above water


Affected by leprosy and destitute, Lang Ol, Uch Chhim, Yei Mao, and so many others, find themselves in the twilight of their lives alone and without any support, often abandoned by their families.

The CIOMAL Foundation seeks to help them retain their dignity.

Lang Ol was found three years ago, crouched at the back of a tiny boat that was drifting in the reeds of the Tonle Sap Lake in Siem Reap. The monks of the nearby pagoda alerted the authorities. Since then, he’s been living in Phnom Penh, at the Kien Khleang hospital managed by the CIOMAL Foundation.
Affected by a multibacillary leprosy, he has lost his nose and fingers and one of his legs was recently amputated.
He is also experiencing strong reactions to the treatment meant to cure him. In addition to medical care, the CIOMAL teams have explored with him options to help him regain autonomy.
This father of three became homeless in 2015, when his family realized he was affected by the terrible disease. On the small plot of land given by his younger brother, Lan Ol could build a home with CIOMAL’s support. To make a living, he could raise two cows and get a good price for their offspring. This would allow
Lang Ol to go into his old age peacefully.

Two cows for Uch Chhim and his wife Yei Mao would allow the tender couple in love who lives in the Kratie province to escape poverty.They are both heavily marked by leprosy and just got married a year ago.
After more than 20 years of courtship, Uch Chhim finally won his beloved over.
It was in the 1990s while he was ploughing the rice fields behind his buffalos that Uch Chhim first saw Yei Mao, then a young woman. It was love at first sight.
But she had no desire to “bother with a husband.” After many attempts, Uch Chhim married another woman.
After becoming a childless widower for many years, he resumed his wooing of Yei Mao, who eventually said yes. They are both hard workers despite their stumps. She plants some vegetables and catches small fishes while he crafts rattan baskets in their shack. This year, COVID-19 and the drought that struck the country have prevented them from making even a paltry pittance.

Pich Nheob was discovered by CIOMAL’s mobile teams during a leprosy early detection campaign in the Kampot region in the south of the country. She and her husband lived a frugal life there in a thatched house that CIOMAL then renovated.
She was cured in 2017 thanks to tritherapy and bears almost no mark of the disease. She and her husband go to banquets to collect beer cans to sell them back. Thanks to the villager’s generosity, they are able to plant some vegetables on a small plot of land.
During the rainy season, they prepare small fishes they sell at the market. But this year, there has been no water or fish. Because of the coronavirus, there have been no banquets or cans. With no family, Pich Nheob and her husband must also prepare for their old days.
The prospect of owning two cows gives them a glimmer of hope.

In Cambodia, the cows are not dairy cows but their calves can be sold for a good price.
Raising cows is simpler and less risky than raising pigs or chickens, which require more care.
Cows are strong and graze grass or tree leaves around them and they can drink water from wells or ponds.

Cost of a strong cow: CHF 500.-
Cost of a small house: CHF 2’500.-


  • Pich Nheob - Des vaches pour sortir la tête de l’eau - CIOMAL
    Pich Nheob



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