New Day New Life is a non-profit Christian organization that began as a response to seeing first-hand the unmet needs of the poorest elderly in the remote areas of Cambodia.
The Kingdom of Cambodia is a developing nation that does not have any social welfare programs for the elderly. Furthermore, the people of Cambodia are still suffering the lasting effects of the Khmer Rouge Regime. Many of these poor elderly lost their family members, live in isolation, and are suffering from illness, poverty, and discrimination and therefore unable to meet even their most basic of needs.
After taking a team to interview these elderly people and seeing the helplessness and hopelessness of the poorest elderly, the Director, Mrs. Maria Thyda Rath developed a strong conviction to find a way to restore and uphold their human value, their sense of dignity, respect, and love by improving their quality of life.
Understanding the Problems and Needs
Conducting first hand research in the Kampong Chhnang Province of Cambodia (see our YouTube video here), interviewing 40 of the poorest elderly individuals from four different districts, we identified the following problems:
- No familial or government support
Many of these individuals have lost their children during the time of the Khmer Rouge or if they do have living family members they are also living in a state of poverty and unable to offer support. Furthermore, there are no government retirement homes or a social welfare system to support these poorest elderly people.
Living in poverty not only means these elderly people are unable to meet their basic needs, such as food and shelter, but it also contributes to their inability to help themselves.
When these elderly people are suffering from illness they are unable to afford medicine, and this often leads to permanent health problems or loss of life.
Poor elderly people are stigmatized and are not highly regarded in Cambodian society and often face abuse or neglect from the community.
Living in remote areas, lack of mobility, and little companionship means these individuals are suffering from intense feelings of loneliness, despair, and helplessness.
- Lack of life skills training
There is a lack of training in health skills such as hygiene.
- Left to raise grandchildren
Having lost their children, these grandparents are often left to raise their grandchildren. So, a cycle of poverty continues with these children, as their grandparents, unable even to look after themselves, have to also cope with the added burden and struggles to raise their grandchildren.
Unassisted, these poverty stricken elderly individuals will live the remainder of their lives in a state of hopelessness – each day a struggle to meet their basic needs with no thoughts of comfort or happiness. Outcast from society, their knowledge and life experience will not be passed on to the next generation. Instead of valuing these individuals, Cambodian society will continue to consider this end result as natural and there will be no security for aging poor people.
Furthermore, their grandchildren are susceptible to illness, trafficking, and will continue in the cycle of poverty.