Today we spent touring some of the CHO projects so that we get a bigger picture of the range of work CHO does. The pictures on the earlier blog go with this one; hopefully you can read them together.
First of all, we saw the cow bank. CHO gives a family a cow, which then has a calf. The family keep the first calf, then give the second one back to CHO. This second calf is then given to a new family and the process goes on. The family can then sell the grown-up calf for their own profit. Life is on the edge - one family had to sell their cow because they needed the money to go to hospital! On the other hand, the profits from these projects allow families to semd their children to school.
The woman is white is the leader of the community of Banteay Ti Muay; her daughter works in the cafe here; she was a Khmer Rouge soldier at 16; her 6-year old grandson died recently but the boys parents didn't have the money to come from Bangkok for the funeral.
She is also a member of a local self-help group. The 25 members save 3000 riel per month (about $1) each and then they meet each month to decide how to use their money. CHO supports the group, but it is their group.
We also met various people who benefit from microloans from CHO. Loans of $200 or $350 are given to people like the sewing business in the picture below or the village store or the hair salon and these people can either set up or expand their business. CHO gives loans at 1.5% interest; the banks 3%; and the private loan companies charge 9%. The husband of the salon owner is a chicken farmer who learned to farm chickens by watching YouTube and Facebook.
The sewing business is connected to a firm in Thailand which supplies the cut-up cloth and pays 10 baht for each pair of shorts. The shorts are then sent back to Thailand and they are paid. They reckon they can make a profit of $600 per month.
There was a market garden that we visited. The family grow pumpkins, chillis, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, and eggplants. They also catch crickets at night with plastic sheets, a fluorescent light tube and a basin of water.
Lots of families and communities are being changed by these small projects. Some of them will change in the next few months as CHO embrace the UMOJA project and if you want to know more of that, look at the Tearfund website.
Finally we went to the prayer meeting this afternoon. One of Jim's students preached and we lost track of the number of times "pastor Jim" was mentioned. At the end of the meeting, they prayed for us and we prayed for them partnership in the gospel at its best.
This is the last blog. Thank you for following us here and on Facebook. We hope you have enjoyed our travels and have learned with us the things we have learned. Any questions, we'll gladly answer them when we come home.