The sight of a beautiful and spacious one-storey house with a red brick front-yard, surrounded by chicken coop, goat barn and pigsty makes it almost impossible to imagine that Nguyệt's family of 5 - the owners of the house - used to be among the poorest households of their commune in Quảng Trị Province.
The house is the result of years of arduous work starting scratch. Back in 2012 when the family's livelihood relied entirely on the wages Nguyệt and her husband earned as hirelings, to have a decent meal for the whole family everyday required a lot of physical exertion. Yet it was not the biggest challenge they had to face. A sudden accident at work happened to her husband, taking him months to recover. Shortly thereafter, Nguyệt received news that she had gallstone disease. Difficulties piled up.
World Vision’s support reached her family at the very time her second child Việt was diagnosed with malnutrition. At 18 months old, Việt weighed 9 kilograms when the minimal weight for his age should be 10.2 kilograms. Now looking back, Nguyệt confided that it has completely changed the life of her family.
Under the Gift Catalog Project which started in 2014, Nguyệt together with over 300 other families in Hải Lăng District participated in the 1-day-old chicken raising program. At that time, the local authorities were skeptical of the idea because 1-day-old chickens were too frail to survive, and without proper breeding techniques, the mortality rate could be as high as 99 percent. The concern, however, quickly dissipated after 6 training sessions organized by Hải Lăng Area Program on breeding techniques for chickens 1 to 21 days old. All families successfully raised and expanded their flock with a survival rate of 95%.
"Commune-level veterinary officers visited us but did not have to do anything, because the chickens were still growing up healthy and I have been equipped with the knowledge and skills to deal with problems related to chickens’ health”, Nguyệt humorously said.
"They were flourishing, laying so many eggs that we could sell to cover daily living expenses, while the money selling chickens was used for re-herding and raising goats and pigs,” she continued. Now, egg selling alone gives her family a stable income of nearly 9 dollars a day.
"I like fried eggs most," exclaimed the now 11-year-old Việt, who is excited about his task of picking up newly laid eggs every day. Meat used to be a luxury to his family in the past, but now their meals are filled with various kinds of meat, including the chicken meat they produce themselves.
From a malnourished boy, with the nutritious meals and child-care knowledge his mom learned World Vision’s nutrition club, Việt has grown up healthy and tall, even taller than most of his peers at school. Good health condition led to good learning outcomes: Việt has just won a prize at the district-level Math and English contests. He can’t wait to share this great news with his sponsor Tracy, whom he has kept in touch with through warm-hearted letters.
“I am very proud of and grateful for what we have today - our healthy children and secured livelihood,” Nguyệt shared, crediting her family’s positive transformation to her decision to participate early and fully in the Area Program’s acitivities.
Nguyệt is planning to expand the chicken flock as she now has a full grasp of breeding techniques and knowledge of business planning and product promotion through World Vision’s market trainings.
"The Gift Catalog has given families a sustainable livelihood. They didn’t simply climb out of poverty, they have owned thriving family's business,” said Hải Quy Women’s Chairwoman Thái Thị Thúy Loan.