A group of students from the University of Montana (UM) visited a Heifer Vietnam self-help group (SHG) in the Soc Trang province of Vietnam Jan. 7.
This is the second time Heifer Vietnam welcomed visitors from UM.
The students’ trip focused on observing project activities, experiencing project members’ daily lives and spending a short time with the Heifer Vietnam staff to learn about the project’s achievements in the community.
Project participants shared pictures of their group’s activities, how their lives have changed since joining the project and the dairy cow cooperative that began in December 2015. Visitors were also introduced to Heifer’s cornerstones, which have been fundamental to the project’s success.
As an instructor in the Climate Change Studies Program at UM, Nicky Phear, and her students were interested in climate change impact and adaptation of farmers in the Soc Trang province.
While visiting project participants’ homes, the students experienced their daily lives by joining their hosts in their daily work. The project families were excited by foreign guests. The hosts taught the guests how to make a bamboo cage for chickens, prepare traditional food and take care of the cows. The students were eager to learn about animal management and the income-generating activities of project members.
With the support from Heifer Vietnam, project participants’ quality of life is expected to continue to improve.
Thao, a project participant, said, “The women are more confident when greeting the guests. We were trained about gender equity and we realize[d] that we could go out to join community activities and work to earn money like men. In group meeting[s] we were very shy to share our idea[s], but now we are confident to express our thought[s].”
Inh, the group’s leader, expressed his excitement when greeting the visitors, “We are happy to share what we have done. The project ended in June 2014 but we are still working together to continue group activities and form [the] dairy cow cooperative. We believe that we could get more income and improve our lives when joining the cooperative. There are still many things we have to learn but the project will provide us [more] new trainings, and we will learn from other project members, too.”
Phear and her students expressed their gratitude to project members and Heifer Vietnam for the hospitable and informative experience in the Soc Trang province.
Story by Nguyen Thi Phuong Tham