10 Oct 2010
Audit of the single women project in Thua Thien Hue, Vietnam
The visit took place in Hue during the period between the 10 and 24 March 2010 (as always at their own expense). Primary concern should be talks with the single women to their social environment and the concrete results that they can achieve with the initial financing of the piglets and the pig barn. We visited women in all six communities in which our project is active.
Other points were the protection of pigs prior to the annual flood, a meeting with the representatives of the International Relations Department of the provincial government and to share experiences with Mr. Vandong, monk from Cambodia and head of BSDA. BSDA took over our project idea in Kampong Cham but have not achieved the same results as those under the leadership of our representative in Hue, Mrs. Ton Nu Thi Hien.
Mrs. Nguyen Thi Sen Suh (50) is one of the
successfully working women
1. The social environment
Such misery and hopelessness as in the hut of Thi Phu (Bieu Thuy commune), the author did no longer expect in Vietnam. The woman is 47 years old and lives together with her disabled brother. She obviously has not the physical and mental strength to use the chance to advance their financial situation with the piglets. She is still working as a day laborer in the fields of the neighbors. Her help is necessary for only 15 days per month. Thus it guarantees a monthly income of 300,000 VND (about 12 €). In her pigsty are only two pigs, because the food supply is usually too difficult.
Mrs. Nguyen Thi Sen Suh has presented us proudly her latest achievements, which she has purchased from the “pig-sales-money”: a new bed, new kitchen with a propane gas plant and a new toilet. Addidionally she enlarged her existing house.
Mrs. Cao Thi Loc in Binh Thanh, 43 years
Mrs. Cao Thi Loc in Binh Thanh has five children from three men. It never was the right man or nobody wanted to stay with her. She is very hardworking. A year ago she came into the project and received three piglets. Already she has sold three times and at the time of the visit she had 11 animals in the stable. She has fully concentrated on pig farming. Food grows in her garden. With her own fountain she watered the land on droughty days. However, she added bought power food for the pigs so that they grow faster. The seven pigs seen on the photo were sold two days later. The revenue of 17,000,000 VND or 750 USD was enormous to her. Two years ago, she still belonged to those who had to live under the poverty line of $ 20 per month.
In her pigsty were 11 pigs. Courage will organize for her in the next time a bio-gas-plant. It will help to protect the environment (drinking water resource and forest – she will no longer use firewood in the kitchen).
Sale: 7 x 2.500.000 VND
The next generation is already in the stable. From the money she has earned by selling pigs, she bought a scooter. With tears in her eyes she reported that her eldest son of seventeen culpaply caused a traffic accident and injured a woman. She had to be hospitalized with a fracture. The police confiscated the moped until the costs of the accident adversary were reimbursed.
Mrs. Anh Thi Dung
She died a month after she had received her three piglets due to diabetes. She could not afford the money for the needed drugs. Mrs Thi Anh Dung left a two year old daughter. Her brother is now taking
care to the little girl. He also took over the pigs.
In fact the little Thu Phuong is now heiress and owner of the pigs from the project. I believe that the courage - members agree that we take Mr. Phan Thom in the project for single women. He took over the first three big pigs, sold and than he bought seven piglets, which are enlarged in the pigsty. In the garden he grows food, which he mixes with concentrates.
The two years old girl Thu Phuong
Mrs. Dong aus Huong Tho
There is much to report about more convincing examples. Even women who had already given up keeping pigs and turned back to her former day laborers returned to the project.
In the areas at risk for flood in Loc Thuy, Quang Thai, Huong Ho, and Huong Tho women have to bring their pigs to safe places. If a hill is easy achievable the pigs are driven to it until the water declines again. Where no hills are reachable they make logs from banana leaves and transports the pigs to higher grounds near the house.
Frau Jo Thi Thi aus Huong Tho zurück
2. Results of the project
The women involved understand the pig as an opportunity to earn money independently and self-propelling. The result depends on the diligence, skill and on the specific agricultural conditions. If food can be grown the own profit is increasing.
Many use the earned money for little improvement in their living standards as a new bed or a TV set. Others improve their house and pay for a new roof, pavement instead of loamy floor in the house or a French toilet. Many continue to invest in the pig. Almost all put back the money for retirement.
There are programs of the state, represented by the Women's Union, to help poor families to get a stone house. The state pays 50% of costs up to 6,000,000 VND (about 280 €). The rest has to be paid by the owners. Women that have been included in the project live now in stone houses.
Two women told us that since they had got the first piglet her life had changed. Although they could not acquire wealth it is enough for life and, first of all, they can determine their lives themselves.
3. Organization of the project-work in Vietnam
The basis for quality improvement is the closer cooperation with the Women's Union in the villages.
Courage e.V. is allowed to use the organizational structure of the Woman’s Union in the communities. The selected single women are invited into the rooms of the community. There the training is performed by a teacher from the University of Hue. After they get their pigs, they come together there again to exchange their experiences. The Women's Union withholds only 230,000 VND from the very first sale, which is then used to include more women in the project for which Courage must not pay. Due to the support of the Women's Union Mrs. Hien is able to serve approximately 120 women intensively. She is always up to date if sale of the fatted pigs is pending or if something unexpected happened.
Chairlady of the Women's Union in Huong Tho
The Women's Union is supported by "Courage" in one of their major tasks – the fight against poverty without own financial resources. And last but not least a lot depends on the commitment of all actors.
Mrs. Hien and I were two full days with the two monks of BSDA from Kampong Cham (Cambodia) on the road. We have shown them the projects in Binh Thanh and Loc Thuy. Mr. Vandong was impressed how successful one can be when everything fits. Mrs. Hien has solved her task well, even if she was not able to answer the questions of Mr. Vandong concerning the project structure and schedule. Instead she is well informed in the details. She could almost be regarded as a specialist in the construction of pig houses, so she explained in detail the different types of pig housing and its construction.
Besuch bei Cao Thi Loc in Binh Thanh
The major difference to Courage Project in Cambodia seems to be that they do not have enough water in Kampong Cham for successfully growing of food for the pigs. Mr. Vandong also remarked the lack of electricity in Cambodia. First of all, Mrs. Hien is supported by state institutions and the Women's Union. They do a lot of preparatory work. In the final meeting, Mr. Vandong was very happy and thanked Mrs. Hien explicitly. Altogether, in my opinion it was for both sides of a successful meeting. Mrs. Hien had a positive experience, too, the confirmation of her work by a Buddhist monk.
- All visited women were interviewed on "paternity and child support". To my surprise, without exception, all women have agreed the Vietnamese traditional arrangements that the father is not responsible for the education and the nutrition of their children if they are not in a marital relationship. A Woman from Quang Thai, Mrs. Thuy said quite frankly that she has raised her son on the "free market". Even a woman with higher education from a town gave her favor to this tradition, which allows an unmarried woman to have kids. Their argument was that professionally successful women do not want to go back under the domination of the man and the dictates of the mother-in-law. Normally, the woman moves after the wedding into the house of the man. This tradition allows that married men may let off steam with impunity, while their wife’s "safely" remained under the strict supervision of the mother-in-law.
- Younger women, who have engaged in a love affair and get pregnant, have no chance of a new liasion, if the man does not respect the given word and escapes. The fatal thing is that especially women with lower education get deeper into trouble, because they have to keep for one eater more. The wives of the men who populate the "free market" are often informed about the love affair. In individual cases, they can prevail, to change the entire social structure they cannot be able.
- The Vietnamese Women's Union is committed to helping the poor. It is also making considerable efforts, but the need to break with the underlying tradition isn’t seen by the local leaders. The time seems to be not ripe yet.
- It is an anachronism, that on the one hand, aid from state and from NGOs is given to the neediness, on the other hand, nothing is done to eliminate the reason of the poverty trap.
4. What's Next?
Courage will continue to select new single women, involve them into the project and sustain the support. We will pay bio-gas plants for the women, who have permanently more than five pigs in their stable. Further work in Vietnam will be advanced dependent on financial donation.
The work in Cambodia is more focused on the experience in Vietnam. Here the progress depends on the receipt of donations, too.
chairman of "Courage e.V."