Our life is improving: Lay Thi May’s story

That the family of Lay Thi May has many children while the household economic conditions are not supportive is typical case among ethnic minority groups. This lady who was born in 1973 married with the man of same ethnic group called Nung. They live in Na Ngam B village, Thuong Ha commune (Bao Lac district, Cao Bang province of Vietnam). Their four children are three girls and one boy, respectively at the school age of 18, 12, 9 and 6. Luckily all are students at elementary, secondary and high school of the locality.

In order to sponsor the children’s study, every month Ms. May spends 1.5 million dong (66USD) for their food at school and tuition fees, in addition to some expenses on clothes and stationery. She shared: “even the family is in very difficult situation (hers is classed “poor” status based on national standard), I and my husband try our best to invest in the study of the children. They must come to school so they can have better job in the future and better life than we have.”

Doing what they believe in, Ms. May and her husband have been working hard in the arable land they own. Rice, maize and other common vegetables are the crops that they rotate every season. Unfortunately, the soil is of poor quality and lacking money to invest in fertilizers is the challenge of this couple. The low yield of the field (roughly 1.25 tons of rice and 1.5 tons of maize) barely provides sufficient food for the family’s consumption and for the livestock and poultry.

Being a poor farmer that pursues the dream moving out of poverty, Ms. May was content to receive the loan from the Community Development Fund, which was set up by CEDLIP project in every village or Community Development Club of project, in September 2015 . This loan has many favorable conditions such as low interest rate and far due date of return (normally after a year). Using the loan’s worth of 3 million dong (130USD), Ms. May and her husband decided to invest in two pigs, each weighted 15-20kg. After six months of rearing, the pigs grew to 70kg and it was the time they were sold for a profit of 8 million dong (350USD) earned by Ms. May. She continued to buy three pigs that cost roughly 4.5 million dong (200USD) and feed them until the presence. The money left from the obtained profit (150USD) was used and saved for the children’s schooling.

At the moment, Ms. May’s family also owns three cows in their livestock herd. Those are revolved from the ones her parents possessed (the old cows were sold to buy the calves) and used in field for plowing. Ms. May and her husband also work for the others once they are hired for seasonal job, such as builders.

“The concern of paying for my children’s study is lessened after the loan from CEDLIP project.  We obtained some profits from selling two first pigs and now we focus on rearing more pigs. We look forward to improving the family’s well-being in the coming years.”

Also benefiting from the CEDLIP project, Ms. May received the water tank and the water filtering system to access more clean and safe water. Similar to the other members of the Na Ngam B Community Development Club, she was trained to set up and maintain the sand filter for water treatment. Ms. May re-did the training to her family members so the whole family is responsible for the water source of drinking, cooking and even washing purpose.   After the treatment process, clean water is stored in the hygienic water tank and therefore, the health of every single individual in Ms. May’s family improves and especially is protected from water-borne diseases.

Last but not least in the series of project activities, Ms. May was confident to sign up for using the fuel efficient cooking stove. This improvement in the kitchen helps reduce significantly the burden on May’s shoulders to collect fire-wood for cooking. The reduced indoor smoke leads to less exposure of respiratory and eye infection diseases for five members of Ms. May’s family.