We had very little to eat.
Heng Lan, a Cambodian mother of four, hasn’t had an easy life. When Lan was young, the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian army were fighting for control of her village, so she and her family were in constant danger. “We had very little to eat,” she adds.
Her husband contracted AIDS in 1995, and a few years later he was dead. Lan then found out that she too had HIV. While taking antiretroviral medication has stabilized her health, being HIV positive has other hurtful consequences in a region where the disease is prevalent, but misunderstood. Other villagers wouldn’t let Lan get water from the well and refused to buy her fruit because they feared it might be infected.
So she worked as a day laborer, harvesting and planting rice and clearing land.
But no matter how hard she worked, Lan only earned about $1.50 a day, barely enough to provide for her three sons and daughter.
Then Lan discovered Heifer - and everything changed!
Chet Serei and Chet Pao Eing hold tree seedlings. She joined our village group, which helped educate her neighbors about Lan’s illness. She was so impressed by our community facilitator, Ham Chhan, that she married him! “He visited me very often to encourage me and we fell in love,” she says.
In 2010, she participated in Heifer trainings, then received her gift of chickens, papaya and jackfruit trees. Using what she learned about agriculture and caring for her animals, she was able to nearly double her income. She saved the money from selling her chickens, fruits and vegetables carefully, and soon was able to buy a pig.
The extra income has allowed Lan and Ham to provide a better life for their children, and make some needed improvements to their modest home.
Lan has also met her Pass on the Gift requirement by providing chickens and seedlings to other families in need in their community. Each time this gift is passed on, poverty is reduced and the impact of your support is multiplied.
It may not seem like a lot to you and me, but to this resourceful mother, a few chickens were just what she needed to begin her journey to self-reliance and leave poverty and despair behind forever.
Lan showed the same fierce determination to transform her life that is exhibited by industrious Heifer project participants all around the world. All they need is a Heifer gift from someone like you to get them started.