Phsar Commune, Kampong Chhnang province — Ol Thida and her husband were sure they had no choice but to leave their tiny rural village.
They couldn’t find work anywhere nearby. They owned almost nothing, not even the plot of land their palm-thatched hut was built on. They owed a microfinance institution $250, a debt whose principal never seemed to shrink, no matter how much of their spare cash they forked over to the bank. They were desperate to meet the deadline for repayment at the end of the year.
So Thida’s husband, Prak Chea, left for Thailand to work as a laborer on a cassava farm and send his wages home. He told her to stay home to care for their two daughters and meager property: a few pots and pans, a few cows.