Written by Lam Quoc Trung, | Community Facilitator | Heifer Vietnam
Translated by Nguyen Xuan Quyen | Communication and Networking Officer | Heifer Vietnam
The Khmer people living in the densely populated commune of Phuoc An have been constantly confined by illiteracy, shortage of production resources, and underdeveloped production techniques. That all began to change in 2010, when Heifer Vietnam ignited the community by bringing them gifts of animals, knowledge, training, skills and inspiration.
The Khmer people make up 90 percent of the commune's population. They seized the opportunity brought to them by the project and have proven that once supplied with crucial and income-generating tools, they could make it happen. They turned opportunity into self-reliance and sustainability.
One project participant, Kim Cal, has gained the respect and admiration of his community for his efforts and self-learning, despite his age of 60. He lives with his wife Thai Thi Kheim, also 60, and their daughter, son-in-law and grandson. They also have a son who is married and lives on his own.
Kim Cal owns a 3/4 acre of rice land, but weak health causes him to spend a large amount of money on hired labor. Thai Thi Kheim does the household chores and runs a small breakfast restaurant that brings in about $2-3 per day. This family of five relies on the humble income from rice production and restaurant earnings, and they struggled to make ends meet.
When the Heifer project started in his community, Kim Cal became interested in Heifer’s approach and the 12 Cornerstones for Just and Sustainable Development.
After receiving one heifer and $100 from the revolving fund, Kim Cal's happiness was balanced by worry about his own challenges and commitment to the project. This concern made him extra determined to work hard, pay close attention during the trainings, and use the techniques he learned to take good care of his cow.
His efforts resulted in the April 2013 birth of a healthy male calf. “The Heifer project has brought a lot of useful things to me," Kim Cal said with excitement. "For example, the training guided me when the cow was in heat. [I learned] how to ferment rice straw for cow feed, how to compost cow manure as fertilizer, etc. Recently, I learned how to take care of the cow during pregnancy and the postnatal period, so I had proper intervention when my cow was giving birth. Therefore, the mother cow and the offspring are healthy. Without Heifer’s crucial training, I would never have done it. Thanks, Heifer, so much.”
In two years, Kim Cal transformed himself from a person with no skills or experience in cow production into an experienced cow farmer. The birth of the healthy calf is a great achievement. However, his greatest achievement has been the inspiration and self-empowerment he has gained through Heifer’s support— a result of his his diligence, determination and, more importantly, commitment to the project. This is only a starting point, and he is ready to make more progress on his way to sustainability.