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Story and Photos by Phan Nguyen Khanh Tran | Program Officer | Heifer Vietnam
Translated and Edited by Nguyen Xuan Quyen | CNO | Heifer Vietnam
A common goal of Heifer projects in Vietnam is to improve the livelihoods and incomes of participants through physical inputs and trainings. During project implementation and management, Heifer focuses on seeking resources for training materials to improve the capacities and skills of farmers living in remote areas.
Every single training material given to target communities is useful, full of information for poor farmers who have limited access to reliable sources of information. Accordingly, when training materials were offered by the Norwegian Mission Alliance, Heifer Vietnam immediately introduced them to self-help groups (SHGs) participating in Heifer Vietnam’s projects in the Tra Vinh and Vinh Long provinces.
To use these materials, Heifer Vietnam conducted trainings combining Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development with household waste treatment. Short video clips on appropriate waste treatment and utility were shown to the SHGs to demonstrate the Cornerstone of Improving the Environment. Of the 14 video clips, seven had strong effects on the SHGs’ awareness and actions. “I personally think that we should use banana leaves and lotus leaves to wrap food like we did in the old days,” said SHG member Loan upon watching the videos. “I also reduce my use of plastic bags to save the environment.”
Applying visual aids such as movies, video clips and pictures on the issue of waste treatment successfully created an atmosphere of interest in the group meetings and trainings, allowing members to relax and expose themselves to important knowledge. Ai said, “Through this training, I and other fellows learned to classify waste and garbage, to treat organic waste as fertilizers and biogas fuel. I will apply it in my family soon.”
In order to promote participation in this training, gifts of hand fans made from recycled plastic were given to those who gave opinions or correct answers. “I am very honored to receive such a small but practical gift. The gift reminds me of saving and protecting the living environment,” said Thuy. Another SHG member, Sang, remarked, "Conservation is a small action with a big meaning; therefore, we should work together to save the environment for ourselves and for the coming generations.”
The training materials have resulted in positive responses in the project communities. In the future, Heifer Vietnam will conduct similar introductions to its target communities and will continue to seek more useful and reliable training sources for its communities. More importantly, Heifer Vietnam will focus on the usage and application of these sources into participants’ households and real lives to fulfill the mission of working for sustainability and self-reliance.
The two projects involved in these trainings are Improving the Disadvantageous Farm Households' Capacity in Tra Vinh Province through Value-Based Holistic Community Development and Improving the Disadvantaged Farm Households' Capacity in Vinh Long Province through Value-Based Holistic Community Development.