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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's supergranny!

14 May 2012

Dum ReamThis might sound like a joke but grandmas around the world do super things (not limited to 1980s TV). We just don't hear about them often enough.

So when I met 72-year-old Dum Ream in Cambodia, I wanted her story to be told. Dum like millions of other grandmothers around the world is raising three grandchildren on her own.

I have to take on this challenge

The children's father passed away and their mother remarried so Dum now looks after them. She told me: "It is very difficult for someone older like me to look after young kids but they are my grandchildren so I have to take on this challenge." She lives in a small hut on the banks of the Sangker River in Cambodia and earns money selling rice noodles.

However, she struggles to earn enough to raise her grandchildren so her local older people's association, set up by HelpAge, gave her a loan of 20,000 riels (US$50) for her rice noodle business. The association is also a place where she can share her problems with other older people.

She says: "I really like the association meetings. I have many friends there and we talk about our problems, our work and we share how best to care for our grandchildren. I always tell others that all children are different and that there is no recipe for raising them. But by sharing our problems we feel better and we advise each other. The association and HelpAge also organise health camps every two months and I get my medicine for hypertension there."

I will fight for them until the day I die

Even though she is 72, Dum says: "I do this [continuing to work at 72] 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 who are educated get work and can succeed. I would prefer to deprive myself so that my grandchildren can succeed. I will continue fighting for them until the day I day."

Dum Ream's 11-year-old grandson, Heran lives with her and says: "I go to school in the next village. 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 to 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 get an injection. She takes me to school. She is my mother."

Super gran!Is your gran super?

So is you grandma super? Do you know other super grannies that the world should hear about?

Tell us more by leaving your comments below!

Your comments

Juan Algotre

How about a super grand pa? Kimani Maruge passed away but was a student in his late 80s. You can see him on YouTube.

Mayur Paul

Hi Juan, Yes we in HelpAge are big fans and wrote here about it. helpage.org/blogs/sarah-marzouk-10/the-first-grader-a-real-life-example-of-age-helps-196/ Have you seen the movie first grader based on his life? Amazing film. Highly recommended!

Dara Yem

Hi Paul, my name is Dara Sonny Yem I ran across this article on the Phnom Penh Post and I try to contact the writer about helping grandma Dum Ream and they told me to look into HelpAge. I saw that you mention she live on the Sangker River which is close to home for me. I was born in Battambang Cambodia and my parent live on the bank of this river also. This is such a heart wrenching story. I seen so many of like this in Cambodia and the rest of the world, but the I can't get the 3 kids of my head. I will be visit Cambodia in 3-4 month and was I would really like to pay a visit to this families and to see what I can do to help. I really hope someone contact me back. Please contact me at Darayem626@gmail.com Thanks

Mayur Paul

Dear Sara Sonny Yem, You can contact our office in Cambodia and the contact details are on the page below helpage.org/where-we-work/east-asia/cambodia-country-page/ We also accept donations online on helpage.org/support-help-age/

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Author profile

Mayur Paul
Country: U.K., India
Job title: Head of Communications and Brand

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.