Nguyen Van Hung, 43, is a participant of Heifer Vietnam’s Improving the Capacity of Disadvantaged Farm Households in Binh Thanh Commune, Thanh Phu District of Ben Tre Province through VBHCD project. He lives with his wife Nguyen Thi Xuan, 41, and their three school-age sons. Coming from poor families, the couple had to leave junior high school to pick up seasonal work to help support their parents. Therefore, when they got married, they had no property of value but quarter acre of rice land, which never produced enough food for the family each year. They relied on daily labor as their major source of income.
When he joined Heifer project in 2010, Hung felt it was a chance for his family to earn a sustainable income. After six months of participating in his self-help group (SHG), contributing money to their group saving and learning about values-based holistic community development, he was gifted a heifer, a loan of $50 to construct a livestock shed and another loan of $100 to begin agriculture production.
His original cow has grown to a herd of five—one of which was passed on to another needy family, one male calf was sold at $700 for daily expenses, one sold at $1,600 and put toward building a house and the remaining two are awaiting artificial insemination. He used the revolving fund of $100 to raise goats and currently owns 13 goats. Each nanny goat is sold at for $120 while the billy goats are sold for about $2 a pound. His goats bring in $500 per year.
Hung and his wife take turns to go to the meeting room and trainings. At these events, they learn and share knowledge and experience in animal husbandry in community with others. At home they review what they have learned by looking at the material hung on the partition. If their cows and goats get sick, they know what kind of medicine is appropriate for treatment. Hung said he plans to expand his cow and goat herds in the future.
Before taking part in Heifer project, his family was a poor family certified by the local government. At that time, they were given some money through a local authority’s program to build a small house. Their life today is a stark contrast. His wife stays home completing the housework and raising cows and goats. She no longer works as hired labor. With the income from cows and goats and the support from the government, he has built a new house and escaped poverty.
The Nguyen family said they like Sustainability & Self-Reliance and Spirituality the best among 12 Cornerstones since they have bettered themselves with the support of Heifer.
"Thanks to Heifer project, especially 12 Cornerstones training and personal leadership training, I realized that I could not miss this opportunity for improvement,” Hung said. “I give my gratitude and thanks to Heifer, which not only supported me in material, but also for encouraging me to become the driving force for positive changes. I owe what my family has today to Heifer."
Story and photos courtesy of Heifer Vietnam