Running for solidarity!

Every year the villagers prove their solidarity with the poorest: last September for the new school year, community participation was overwhelmingly huge: 79.000 children and adults ran several kilometers. Large banners everywhere, loud speakers... a true festival! Absolutely everyone was clearly aware of what was going on. People also contributed small donations: in total, more than 5.000 € were collected.

Even if poverty recedes in Vietnam, Madam Luot and her 6 children will continue to belong to the poorest 10% who face extreme hardship. One cannot understand how they manage: with all statistics counted and considered, they earn only 4 € per person per month*.

“My husband died of disease. Now, my greatest concern is for my children to continue their education. Mekong Plus helped me with a microcredit loan to purchase piglets and also provided scholarships for the children -52 euros in total.  Additionally, a paravet comes regularly to advise us about the livestock. After a few months I sold 3 pigs and kept the sow for reproduction. I suffered some financial losses as well but finally I was able to make a profit of 35 euros after selling 4 pigs. Little by little I was able to raise more and more pigs. I also produce rice alcohol which provides a small additional income. My sister works on another farm and gives us 23 euros per month.

We have one hectare of land. I could not cultivate it by myself so I rented it out for 130 euros per year, just enough to afford my children’s school fees and pay for their books. With the help of the project I decided to take back the hectare of land and use it to cultivate cassava. The boys helped me a lot. It has been a fantastic success: 430 euros!  I can consider buying a net to raise chickens and ducks around our house. The children do well at school and their teachers recommended them for scholarships to Mekong Plus. The elder children are studying at university and a technical school, too. I am so grateful, I think they will be fine now. Our income has almost doubled!”

Luot expresses a sincere thank you to Mekong Plus, but what really matters is the support she receives from the community; they are determined not to deceive the thousands who ran for solidarity so that even the poorest could go to school.

Bernard KERVYN, with Du of the Ðúc Linh team. 07/02/2009

*After taking into account the purchasing power, this is equivalent to about 50 euros in Belgium