Sokoan’s Sweet Solution

Creation, Creation Care , Stories

Contributed by: Food for the Hungry Canada

Ending poverty is more about consistent hard work than flashy innovation. Sometimes it means scraping together what’s available and taking a look at what God’s given you. It’s making something sweet for your community with what’s begun to bloom.

Not unlike bees, one might say.

This is the case for 64-year-old Sokoan Paork in the Svay Leu region of Cambodia.  With a bright smile and tenacious spirit, Sokoan pastors a growing church. She also tends a flourishing bee farm with the rest of her time. While she mentors and prays with women in her community, she’s also nurturing a thriving bee colony.

Previous to FH’s involvement in her community, Sokoan found it hard to support the many who depended on her. Her children and grandchildren had school fees, and there were always many mouths to feed but never enough to go around. As a leader in her community, Sokoan often cared for those in the congregation as well as her family.

Sokoan saw a sweet solution. The first year, she attended FH-facilitated trainings after which she was given a start-up hive and invested CAD $100 into her new beekeeping business.

One bee hive consists of a wooden box with a removable lid in which seven honeycomb frames hang. Ever pastoral, Sokoan proceeded to train several of her church congregants in bee-keeping. Pastor Sokoan’s new group of bee enthusiasts took the early proceeds of the sale of their honey to purchase materials to make 12 more hives, as well as a comb-spinning device to more easily extract the honey. Together, they are producing more than five litres of honey per week. The group is even learning how to breed queen bees, which can fetch a good price as beekeeping’s popularity grows in their region.

Now only a few years later, Sokoan’s little bee farm is now buzzing with activity, and prosperity. Each year following she’s made more and more money in return. In recent years, she’s made CAD $300 annually from her bees!

It makes her work as a pastor possible. The additional income means she has more to give to her family and community.

She harvests the hard-earned honey every two weeks and has learned which bees are the best to keep. Her Cambodian species of bees are the hardiest; they know how to protect themselves and more of them survive. Her bees imported from Europe tend to struggle.

Now every Sunday, Sokoan walks into church with a golden bottle of honey—her contribution to the church offering.

Because of hard work, education, startup bees from FH, and a faithful commitment to her family, Sokoan Paork is sticking with her resolve to end poverty in her community. Sokoan is a testimony to her congregants and community; anyone can humbly work to end poverty, one drip of honey at a time.

Want to help more families thrive by kick-starting a bee farm for them?