Heifer International leaders meet with Cambodia program staff, families

CAMBODIA—From April 8 to 11, 2010, Steve Denne and Mahendra Lohani, Heifer International’s chief operating officer and vice president of the Asia program, visited with Heifer country staff and participant families as well as representatives from USAID in Cambodia.

Denne and Lohani used the visit to learn about Heifer Cambodia’s program activities, achievements and impact, and to share with the Cambodia team news and information from Heifer’s headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas, in the United States.

During the meeting, Heifer Cambodia Country Director Keo Keang delivered updates as well as some of the challenges the program faces and some areas for improvement. When a question was raised about local fundraising, Denne noted, “Building capacity and skills of country program staff on local fundraising is connected to opportunity and the trend in donors.”

Denne and Lohani also met with Flynn Fuller, mission director of USAID in Cambodia. Denne shared Heifer’s history, vision, mission and activities with Flynn, and Lohani described the works of Heifer’s country program offices in Asia/South Pacific. In his comments, Flynn said that USAID fund focused on economic growth and the value chain, and suggested that Heifer work with DAI economic growth sector of USAID to build relationships, share learnings and pursue partnerships.

On the second day of the visit, Denne and Lohani met with Heifer project participants from two self-help groups (SHGs) in Meanchey village, Sronarl commune, Kralanh district, Siem Reap province.

They learned about group activities and group transformation and heard from each participant about what has changed in his/her family in terms of food security and family harmonization—reduction and eradication of domestic violence—after she/he joined the Heifer project.

The two also shared ideas with project participants on how to make their groups better and stronger by encouraging them to increase their group savings fund and doing group business. After the meeting, Denne and Lohani visited some participants at their homes to view their integrated farming systems. The project participants have fishponds, animals and home gardens, which Denne found inspiring.

During their visit, Denne and Lohani also spoke with the Voice of America (VOA) radio network, Radio Free Asia and Rasmei Kamuchea, a local newspaper, about what Heifer does, where Heifer works and Heifer’s work in the region. “Inviting media to join this kind of ceremony is very useful,” said. Lohani.