Story and Photos by Nguyen Xuan Quyen | Communication and Networking Officer | Heifer Vietnam

On May 2, 2013, Marleen New, director of global partnerships and alliances, and Carol Moore, manager of global partnership development, both from Heifer International headquarters, visited communities involved in Heifer Vietnam projects to see the implementation firsthand and hear the stories of participants.

The pair visited two project sites in the Tra Vinh province, where they were able to see the project in action and talk with community members, which they enjoyed despite the language barrier.

New and Moore asked participants about the project's challenges, advantages and improvements. As they listened to their life stories, they could see the economical improvements and spiritual changes resulting from Heifer's work.

The two also discussed Vietnam's major imports and exports and the government's New Rural Development campaign with the local authorities of Huyen Hoi village, Cang Long district, Tra Vinh province.

A female participant from each self-help group (SHG) confidently presented her group's activities and achievements. The women proudly shared their improvements in awareness and living conditions and did not hesitate to ask the two guests questions.

Scorching heat and humidity relentlessly greeted the pair as they visited homes, cow sheds and farmers' crops. But that did not dampen the joy they felt from the welcome hugs and smiles from the people they were visiting.

New and Moore were especially interested in the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), an innovative practice of rice farming used in Heifer Vietnam's Farmer Field School. This new system, which they talked about in one community, helps reduce irrigation requirements, seed rates and the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. It also lightens the farmers' workloads, produces higher yields of better quality and is friendly to the environment.

Impressed with the groups' stories, New said, "I am very happy to hear your stories and I am very proud of them. We raise money for projects. We work with big companies. We write stories and take photos to share with them to raise money. Thanks so much for sharing your stories with us. When you share your life story, that's Passing on the Gift®."

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Author

Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.