Overcoming poverty

The story below was told by 29 year-old-man named Tran Cong Danh. He was with his wife – Nguyen Thi Thu Trang (31 years old) when the talk went on, as a proof of family unitedness generating success.

Their family with two kids was residents of Long Hoa 2 Ward, Ben Cau District, Tay Ninh Province. Not knowing exactly since when; but as far as he remembered, with his parents and his grandparents’ lives, poverty had haunted them like a shadow of destiny. When Danh got married, he and his wife possessed nothing except the old house constructed from 1978, assigned by the father as a small gift before his death. Plus 2 land acres, they had tried to work but gained no success to break the poverty cycle. Worry of daily food and the children’s future obsessed them by every day and night.

Now, Danh and his family have become sample of overcoming poverty for living neighborhood, since they joined in the Cow Bank and Community Development (CBCD) Project executed by ADRA in Vietnam.

2012 was the first time when this man had learnt about CBCD Project, which provided micro-finance assistance in the form of cow loan and delivered training course over animal husbandry. After participating in general information meetings and understanding about project’s activities and its goals, Danh discussed with his wife to take part in the project. Passing first stage of registration, he recognized that loan funded by ADRA was able to afford only one calf, while buying a female cow would cost some more money. Raising calf would take more time, hereby extend the refunding time. They were put in serious consideration until decision was made, Danh and his wife came up with the borrowing from relatives (at that time of 3.9 million VND) to add up with the amount of 10 million lent by ADRA. They finally got a female cow.

“At that moment, we didn’t have any property; money left even was not sufficient for daily food. But thinking of the project’s loan without interest, and just spending time and effort for grass-cutting and husbandry then we were able to gain something, so we decided to hold the chance immediately”, shared by Danh.

By May of 2012, he adopted the female cow for raising. Three months later, the ward president informed to all of families about capital assistance program of Agriculture and Rural Development Bank. Danh again took account of the opportunity and shared his thought to the wife:  “Cutting grass every day for only one cow is not efficient, because we can even prepare food for 2-3 cows, thus if we have more cows, we just gain more benefits, none of any negative effect”. Doing after thinking thoroughly, he borrowed money from the bank to buy a pair of cows (one female cow and one calf).

He bared his heart: “I used to borrow and invest money on cattle, but I based only on my own experience to raise, which later did not generate any good result. There was no training on animal husbandry provided, buying the cow cost a lot of money but selling to the market stayed at low price, so the loss must be offset the whole period afterwards by different work.”

Raising the cow from project was not only based on previous experiences, but also combined with new know-how from training courses delivered by ADRA in Vietnam. This practical knowledge was of essentiality and made the cowherd regain more confidence. “Now I have learnt about the cage building. Once I knew the way, I also instructed to others, like family of Ms. Lan and Mr. Loi (they were both households receiving cows from ADRA project”, said by Danh.

Witnessing his animal cage staying in good condition: cow pat was collected, insect-net was supplemented; I soon recognized the cows staying healthy, partly thanks to his careful and meticulous caring. “Without the net, the cow will get sick soon because of mosquito bites after only one night”. This was a huge difference in comparison with his old habit of raising cow as “whatever it takes”.

Highlight of this man was the venturesome spirit that made him bold of pursuing what was consistently believed in. Different from other poor households that considered cow raising as a form of bad investment, which was normally time-consuming and non-profit bearing business, Danh regarded this capital utilization as a way to save and develop his own household economic. Some reckoned this business-doing as non-productive, so the reversal happened in Danh’s thought; some felt grass-cutting and cow-raising as waste of effort, but they were of right investment for this man; the others remained short-term vision while Danh had extended his sight. Some dared to raise one cow only; Danh dared to bear the tending of a herd. He affirmed: “The project valued at 10 million must be an effort of 3-4 years. After that, we would be not that rich, but at least we would have enough for proper food serving daily life. There have been so many others as hired labor that were not capable of buying the cow; not having even sufficient food so how could they be ready for cow tending.”

Time flied and his plan soon produced some fruits. November of 2013, at the moment of refunding to the project, he sold 1 female cow and 2 male calves at 36.7 million VND. He repaid completely the project loan, and would refund 20 million in the next quarter’s payment to the bank. Money left was used to buy fermented rice straw serving 2 cows during dry season and to spend on some small expenditure for his family. After 18 months working hard, his family has earned a sustainable capital fund for their own economic development.

Danh continued his story saying that “Soon in the next few months, we will have 2 more calves. Looking at other families who stay in our old condition, now I feel the difference because we already obtained some savings for starting capital. Next payment to the bank is coming in November 2014, I definitely will pay back all. This cow herd now is the most precious asset for my family. I will keep raising, so that I can soon earn some money for the house repair (this wooden house built by his father has lasted for 20 years – noted by the writer), and taking care of my two children for their future”.

Danh shared: “Thanks to the ADRA project that now I have cows on my own, this before I could not even dream of. I have returned one calf to the project and I still possess several at the moment. The cow herd is a good business rotation; since one is sold, I still have the other remained”.

“Not only I received benefits from the project, but also my neighbors did. We all love talking and sharing about this model to the others.”

At the moment of conversation, I came up with a question of his participation into the project’s information meetings. “All of communication events organized in this ward have delivered practical and useful knowledge. Before, I smoked a lot of cigarettes, like a pack per day, now I have smoked less, just 6-7 per day” – Danh spoke in enjoyable happiness about the impacts made in his habit. He continued: “I have seen many times my children sleeping out of the net. I have to take them back to the inside to prevent infectious diseases caused by mosquito”.

“Domestic violence sometimes happened in my family while it was the time of extreme difficulty”, Danh admitted with sadness appeared in his eyes. “Now when I do something wrong that makes my wife angry, I know how to control myself so I will go somewhere for a while to avoid quarrel. I also drink less alcohol after recognizing its terrible consequences. Before whenever I got drunk, I easily got violent temper and jumped into a quarrel with my wife, I even hit her sometimes. After joining the meeting (communication event – noted by the writer), I know that it’s not right to hit my wife so now I have changed.”

Trang – Danh’s wife – sitting next to him from the beginning of the talk expressed her thought: “He has changed a lot. Bad things before now are acknowledged and adjusted in a good way. The family having a husband who can care about wife and children is a good one”. Talking about the past, she said: “I was frustrated, but now I am not anymore! I am so glad to see the results compensating for efforts we have spent. We will endeavor more to take care of our children, of their studies and future.”

I also got a chance to hear from Mr. Phan Minh Tinh (the former Ward’s President), who has encouraged Danh’s family a lot, saying: “They used to be one of the poorest households for years. Owning no asset for production and Danh – the supposed bread-winner – always in state of being drunk had pushed the whole family to various sufferings. Everything has been going the other path since Danh joined in the project. He now becomes an active member of every activity in this community, also plays one role in the ward’s security group.”

After all, Danh’s story was not made by luck. Indeed, his success came from personal efforts, of holding strongly the determination to get rid of poverty and bad habits. I felt admirable of this man, as he has not only generated income for his own family, but also contributed to the securing of social fund, since original investment was returned to the project, this amount would in turn assist the other families.

Tay Ninh, December 2013

CBCD Project