Two pigs in a cement pigsty

Pigs, and other Gifts of Hope, helped one family in Vietnam recover from tragedy, and begin their journey to overcoming poverty.

High in the mountains of north Vietnam, Houa and her children were in crisis. Houa’s husband had just passed away from a brain tumor, leaving her the sole provider for her 4- and 5-year-old daughters, and 2-month-old son… Through her fresh grief and caring for her newborn baby, Houa didn’t know how she would provide for her children. 

Today, with support from Holt, Houa and her children are doing well.

Even before her husband passed away, life was difficult. Their home was a wooden structure with a dirt floor and leaky roof. Apart from their clothes, they had nearly no other possessions. The girls, Diep and Giang, didn’t have the supplies they needed for school, and they were often hungry. And at just a few months old, Bao was already malnourished. Houa and her husband had worked as farmers, growing cassava, corn and rice, but it was never enough to feed their family — let alone enough to sell to make an income.

Adding to their difficulties, the family belongs to the Hmong minority ethnic group, which is a people group and culture separate from the mainstream Vietnamese culture. Because of this, Houa and her family struggled to communicate in Vietnamese, lived far away from any city, and had limited access to services like healthcare and education.

“We became aware of this family due to their extremely challenging circumstances,” says Loan Nguyen, a case worker at Holt Vietnam.

Yet, when Loan first met Houa and her children, she also saw their resilience — and how with some extra support, they could be empowered to get back on their feet. 

A mom in Vietnam holds her son and stands near their pigsty
Houa shows

Right away, Holt donors stepped in to help Houa and her children. They received emergency food, and other essentials to meet their basic needs. But they also received Gifts of Hope that would help them become stable and self-reliant in the long-term. One of the biggest, most helpful, gifts they received was two pigs!

These two pigs, with black hair and pink noses, live in a rectangle pigsty made of bricks and cement. Houa has diligently cared for the pigs and helped them grow, knowing that her time and resources would pay off.

And just last year, this came to fruition when the pigs had their first litter of piglets. Houa kept some of the piglets, and sold others to earn critical income for her family.

As Houa’s pigs have more piglets, their family will have a sustainable source of food, manure for their garden to flourish, and income from selling whatever piglets they don’t need themselves.

“This profit has allowed her to provide essential items such as food, meat and clothing for her children,” Loan says, “which is a positive step forward.”

Another new way Houa has worked to support her family is through learning to sew. Just last year, she found a local tailoring shop that produces traditional Hmong clothing. She’s learned how to stitch together and mend this clothing, and now earns an extra $100 a month for her family.

sisters stand outside of their home holding a bag of chips
The girls are thankful for supplemental snacks from Holt!

The reason Houa is able to hold this extra job is because of another help from Holt — daycare for her son, Bao.

While Houa works at the tailoring shop and her older girls are at school, Bao goes to a Holt-supported daycare where he receives nutritious meals, milk and support for his health. Today, at 4 years old, he is thriving in his development and early education. His big sisters are thriving too.

“The girls are not only academically excellent, but also possess talents that shine in their school activities,” Loan says. Diep has a beautiful singing voice and is the lead singer in her choir at school. Giang is excelling in her education, and is a leader among her peers.

Despite their intense hardship, all three children — and Houa — are doing well. They’re becoming more healthy, advancing in school and work, and growing in confidence that they can make it on their own.

And this is due in no small part to the generous Gifts of Hope they received in their greatest time of need.

“The family’s progress, no matter how small, is a testament to their determination and the support they have received,” Loan says. “It’s a hopeful sign for a brighter future.”

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