Story by Maria Lynn Wrabel | Volunteer | Heifer Vietnam
Photo by Lam Trinh Hong Nhung | Program Officer | Heifer Vietnam
Giau is a participant in the Heifer Vietnam project called Improving the Capacity of Disadvantaged Farm Households in Chau Hung A District of Vinh Loi, Back Lieu Province Through Values-Based Holistic Community Development.
As a child, Giau never had the opportunity to go to school because her family was too poor to afford the school fees. Her friend taught her to read and write, and she learned to keep careful records of her familys finances and investments. Although she values her sons education, she could not afford to send them to school past seventh grade. Now, the two boys, 18 and 23, both work to support the family.
Giau says she missed the first informational meeting about the Heifer project, but when she heard from her friends about the opportunity she eagerly applied to participate. The family received their heifer in June of 2010.
The youngest son is the primary caretaker of the cows, and Giau said he has fallen in love with them. When it was time for their first Passing on the Gift® (POG), the family gave away a cow. The boy was so upset he cried and, his mother recounted with a smile, he refused to help move her. He now hopes to work more with cows in the future and to help raise the pigs that Giau intends to buy.
Giaus eldest son works with his aunt in the city of Can Tho, about two hours away from Bac Lieu province. He delivers food to the markets, but his dream is to become a professional mechanic. Giau intends to use the money from the Heifer cows to finance the expansion of his business.
Giau is a resourceful and practical woman. She used a microfinance loan from Heifer to purchase fishing nets, which she and her husband use to catch fish from the river in front of their house. Every few months they use the profits from the fish to buy more fish nets, and now they have 30 nets. They also invested money from the group savings fund in vegetable cultivation to take advantage of a small plot of empty land in their front yard. Giau sells the fish and her homegrown vegetables at the local market every day. The family earns between $2.50 and $5 daily by selling fish and $5 daily by selling vegetables.
Giau says that because of the Heifer project, she has become interested in community and rural development. She encourages members of the Heifer project not to sell their cows for money to invest in short-term, high-profit and high-risk endeavors, such as raising fish or shrimp. Instead, she suggests families keep the cows as insurance, because it is not difficult or risky to raise and keep a cow. Giau uses the work of Heifer to reach out to the rest of her community and create a network of support.