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Story by Prak Somathy | Networking and Resource Mobilization Manager | Heifer Cambodia
Photos by Heifer Cambodia Team
Pierre Ferrari, president and CEO of Heifer International, made his first visit to Heifer Cambodia along with Dr. Mahendra Lohani, vice president of Heifer's Asia/South Pacific program. During the five-day visit, Ferrari participated in a Passing on the Gift® (POG) celebration in Kumrou village. More than 700 people from project communities, including both project and non-project families, local authorities, representatives of other NGOs and government institutions, Heifer project partners, media, school principals, teachers, and school children, attended the ceremony held on August 29.
Original project families who had received animals and resources from Heifer passed on 51 cattle, 182 swine, 60 chickens, about 50 pounds of vegetable seeds and 44 fruit-tree seedlings to 145 new families in the community. These gifts will help project families reduce their vulnerability and will enable them to lift themselves out of poverty toward sustainable development and lives of harmony and prosperity.
During his speech, Ferrari said, “Today, this group in this province is joining millions of others who have been through a POG ceremony, and the real hero of what has been done is you. The POG is one important step in the heroic work that you are doing. The POG families, those of you receiving the gifts, now it is your time to be a hero. The cows, the pigs, the chickens, the trainings, the seeds, all are important, but the most important thing is the change in your heart and in your mind. If your heart and mind do not change, nothing changes. On behalf of all the people that work with Heifer International in the United States, we send you their love, their wishes, and blessings.” Ferrari added that Heifer International was very happy to join with the government and local authorities in the district for the work that has been done, and appreciated the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Provincial Governor of Siem Reap for their attendance at the POG ceremony.
Ferrari visited exhibits on the agricultural products made by project families who received resources from Heifer, and then had lunch and danced in friendship with the community people to close the ceremony.
Following the POG ceremony, Ferrari continued to a community in Anlong Sa village. He spent some time visiting a children’s class learning about Heifer’s 12 Cornerstones of Sustainable Development and interacting with self-help group (SHG) members. He learned how they used the gifts provided by the project to generate income, improve their living condition, and transform their lives. During a visit to a bamboo-basket handicraft activity, Ferrari joined in and learned how to make a basket. He also was interested in the group business of an SHG that started a rice bank to help increase the income and resources of not only the families, but also the group.
Ferrari spent his third and fourth days in various meetings to strengthen collaboration with government institutions and other NGOs to support Heifer project implementation in Cambodia.
Ferrari’s final day was spent in Svay Teap and Svay Chrum districts, where there is a new project and an active project. During his time with the SHG of the new project, Ferrari learned about the group’s goal and vision for the future, as well as the families’ incomes and expenditures. The SHG members shared that they had a goal of increasing their family incomes to $700 per year in the next 3-5 years. Ferrari told the SHG members that if there is change in their hearts and in their minds, there will be also change in their pockets. The SHG leader in the active project gave a presentation on their group’s history, activities, challenges and achievements in the project. Ferrari was fascinated with the SHG’s village maps indicating the past situation, current situation and future situation that showed their progress and their expectations for the future.
He told both communities that he will return in the next two years to see if their dream comes true. During a home visit to project families, Pierre recommended that they work closely with the Community Animal Health Workers, in terms of animal health, vaccination, and management, so their animals produce good yield.
In a reflection after the field visits, the Heifer Cambodia team said they were inspired by Ferrari’s messages to the communities and that it was a good experience to learn from him how to inspire communities. His comments and ideas shared with the community people were simple and short, but meaningful and easy to understand by farmers who may have little education. Meanwhile, the team was impressed by Ferrari's perspective on the integration of a market-driven approach and the Values-Based Holistic Community Development approach to assist the poor and marginalized families to escape not only hunger, but also poverty through increased incomes. The team thinks that the value chain and cooperatives are part of the strategies to achieve this goal.