Season of Love, Gifts of Hope: Chickens and Pigs Keep Children Healthy, Families Together in Vietnam

Sometimes, all a family needs is a little help.

Many of the children who enter Holt’s care have living parents or relatives whose lack of resources, not lack of love, compelled them to seek outside care for their child. Rather, relinquishing a child is an act of love. What parent wouldn’t rather separate from their child than watch their child grow sick and malnourished?

At Holt, we believe poverty – or disease or discrimination – should not prevent children from growing up with otherwise loving birth parents. That is why, everywhere we work, we strive to keep at-risk families safe, stable and together.

To that end, we provide basic nutrition and medical care for physical health, and counseling for psychological wellbeing. We assist with education, sending children to school and training parents in income-generating trades. And through microloans for small businesses, we help families achieve both self-reliance – and lasting stability.

One small business is particularly adaptable to many of the regions we serve: raising livestock. After Holt provides the resources and know-how, families can quickly take the reins.

Here are three short family stories from Vietnam, a country where – with international adoption suspended – family preservation efforts have become a major focus, and livestock a major source of support. All three of these children are supported by Holt’s sponsorship program as well:

 A few little chicks can make a big impact…

When Cara’s* mother died in November of 2009, she and her three siblings went to live with her grandmother and aunt. For income, the family harvested rice and raised a few chickens. This barely provided enough to meet their basic needs, however, let alone pay the fees for the children to attend school. Cara and her siblings were at risk of dropping out of school when the local district referred the family to Holt-Vietnam.

To ensure that Cara and her siblings could stay in school – and with their family – Holt provided funding to support the family’s chicken-raising efforts. Holt social workers regularly visit Cara’s family to check on their health and wellbeing, and to advise her grandmother and aunt on how to manage their small business.

Today, Cara and her family are doing well. Now 4, Cara attends kindergarten and is developmentally on track. “She walks, runs and jumps without any problem,” a Holt social worker wrote in a recent sponsorship report. “She is learning colors and counting from 1 to 100.”

A couple pigs can support a family…

Suong* lives with her mom and her sister.  Her parents are divorced, and her father provides no support. As a single mother, Suong’s mom struggled to provide the basics for her two daughters. The girls rarely had enough food, and paying school expenses posed a significant challenge.

To help Suong’s mom care for her daughters, Holt-Vietnam provided start-up funding for the family to raise pigs. When the pigs grew big enough, Cara’s mother was able to sell them at market – generating income to cover the girls’ school fees, and provide nutritious food for her family. She reinvested the money left over by buying more pigs – creating a stable, self-renewing source of income for her family.

Suong is now 3. “She loves dressing up and playing dolls and with new toys,” writes her social worker. “The little girl is really adorable and active.”


Even send a child to school…

After Hai’s* father died in May of 2010, his mother became the sole income-earner for the family. Her work as a farmer provided some support, but not enough to adequately care for her children. After a local women’s union referred the family to Holt-Vietnam, Holt supplied the family with pigs to help generate income. With this resource, Hai’s mom is able to pay the school fees for her children.

Although Hai was sick when Holt began supporting his family, he has recovered and is now in good health. “He loves to go to kindergarten every day where he can play with toys with his friends and learn new things,” writes his social worker. He loves riding tricycles and playing on the slide, knows some children’s songs, and is learning to read poetry and tell stories, his social worker also writes. He is a healthy, happy, 4-year-old boy. Overall, his family is faring much better with the regular income from raising pigs.


* names changed

This holiday season, you can help a struggling family achieve both self-reliance and lasting stability. Click here to give livestock or other gifts of hope to children and families in need.

To learn more about Holt’s sponsorship program, click here.

For more information about Holt’s work in Vietnam, view our Vietnam country brief.

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