One day of late 2011, we came to Chau Thanh District for surveying the beneficiaries of Cow Bank Initiative Project. The project had been kicked start since June 2010, but the ADRA in Vietnam’s staffs still kept track of selected subjects, so to ensure the project targeting those most in need.
We arrived just moment of beautiful sunset starting. Looking at this land, it was of strong emotion emerged for the well-being of the soil, but one thing recognized that the people here have not explored all the chances for thriving life.
The family being looked for was of Luu Van Tai and Nguyen Thi Ut, two elders residing in Hoa Thanh Ward. The neighbors were happy of showing us their house, as all of them had known each other and had been in tight bond of neighborliness.
The house appeared at a corner where the small alley led to, carrying more meaning of a shelter, rather than a house. It was an unstable structure, with leaks over ceiling and the walls. Then the two owners showed up, sharing with us about their life.
“My life dream is to own a cow, so that I can take care of her, and have more hope for me and my wife’s old age. Unfortunately, I am blind and the burden will fall into my wife’s shoulder. Also, we have been too poor, to be capable of buying one”, Tai bared his heart in sadness. “We have lived on our own for many years, based on the money earned from hired work. But it is not a steady source of income. Sometimes, we have to utilize everything left from the others to support some more for the daily living, for instance during the harvest, I and my wife collect rice left on the field, so to sell for a small amount of money or to save for our meals”.
The staffs later talked to him about the project, which aimed at the livelihood security improvement for people with visual impairment. Listening to the brief, Tai and his wife – Ut – were happy and full of expectation to join. The difficulty notified was about their experience of raising the cow. We let Tai know that he must attend our technical training course in the District Center of Chau Thanh, which located in a pretty far distance from his home, before being qualified for receiving the cow loan.
But this man had held determination from the beginning. Regardless of distance, of inconvenience due to his blindness in the class, he consistently participated in all trainings about cow disease recognizing, taking care and preventing techniques, etc. After being geared up for tending, Tai and Ut eventually adopted one female calf valued of 6 million VND from ADRA in their bursting happiness.
He said: “I have attended 6 trainings of crossbred cow and 2 annual workshops of project. Every time, I had been the first person coming there. I did not miss any training, for the knowledge provided was really useful for the raising. I diffused what I have learnt from the courses to my wife and even my neighbors and we all applied these techniques into the raising. For example, we have used net to cover the cattle cage, so to avoid infectious diseases caused by small insects”.
For the CBI project officers, we have stayed in touch and visited him every month, to follow the development process as well as to exchange the experience.
This couple raised the cow like their own child with deep emotion and sincere feeling originating from their heart, that motivated him to touch the calf gently every day, so it see its gradual development. The day they had not got a true house (the today’s house was supported for re-construction by a donor from Ho Chi Minh city, right after the collapse of old one in Tet Holiday 2013), they shared half of the roof for their couple and the other side for the calf. For the grass cutting, it was not of easy task, especially for Tai. People here frequently saw the man following his wife and the calf to the meadow, then they both cut grass while looking after the cattle.
“We bring the grass back home for storage. We keep it in the house and I have to close the door in case the neighbors’ cows will eat while I can’t recognize which one is mine. My wife will feed the cow at home when she gets back”.
Life was going on with this man’s day by day effort, and so one day, the fruits had blossomed. Today, when we came back to visit this family, they have become owners of 3 cows’ worth of 50 million VND. They will welcome 2 more calves next year, as the first female calf was already pregnant and so was the female cow.
“I will take care of these cows until I and my wife are not able to do. At that time, I will sell them to earn a certain saving securing our old age”, Tai said.
Almost running out of time, we looked around to see how changes have put magic over this old couple’s living, and we saw no grass in the house. Responding to our surprise, Tai said the newly separate roof was just built to preserve the grass and it lied on the other side of the house. The construction was partly thanks to the contribution of the local church, when they witnessed the difficulties of this family.
Moment of farewell to Tai and Ut, the heart of project doers like us was overwhelmed by happiness and proudness.