Marcela De Campos (Vietnam)

Marcela is a graduate of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy with specializations in international development and international security and economic policy. She earned a bachelor's degree of economics from the University of Maryland. Since 2014, she has gained well-rounded development and policy experience in both the public and private sectors working with the World Bank, Chemonics International, Grameen Foundation's Bankers without Borders, The Office of U.S. Representative Ann McLane Kuster, and Development Transformations. Influenced by her formative experiences with indigenous communities in South Dakota, U.S. and Madre de Dios, Peru and her fieldwork in the Valmiki Tiger Reserve, Bihar, India, she is passionate about empowering rights-holders from marginalized or vulnerable populations by fostering sustainable gender equity and social inclusion.

#10: Mr. Thin’s family receives a cow and calf

22 Aug

This blog documents the official exchange of the cow and calf between Mr. Thin’s family, Ms. Hue (the cow salesperson) and liaisons of the process (AEPD, AP, and Lam Hoa Commune’s Local People’s Committee).

As a refresher, you can find Mr. Thin’s Agent Orange Campaign profile here. We started fundraising for his family’s cow and calf in mid-July and a little over a month later, the Nguyen family has become the tenth Agent Orange Campaign beneficiary! Thank you for following Mr. Thin’s journey and generously investing in his family’s future.

Group picture

From left to right: Me, Ngoc (AEPD staff), Ms. Loan, Mr. Thin, Mr. Truong Quang Tan (Deputy President of Lam Hoa Commune’s Local People’s Committee), Mr. Hoc (AEPD Outreach Worker), Ms. Hue (cow salesperson), and Ms. Hue’s partner

As soon as we had raised the amount necessary to set Mr. Thin’s cow-rearing business plan in motion, Ngoc informed Mr. Hoc (AEPD Outreach Worker). Mr. Hoc then let Mr. Thin know it was time for him to get quotes for cows and calves from different salespeople in the region.

Ms. Loan and Mr. ThinMs. Loan and Mr. Thin pose for a photograph together. Mr. Tan and Ms. Hue’s partner watch in amusement from the front door.

All Campaign beneficiaries are required to secure the resource(s) necessary to begin their business plan. The program’s model is set up this way to establish an additional layer of buy-in and to ensure that their resources, in this case a cow and calf, are 100 percent suitable for the family’s needs. For example, Mr. Thin wanted a particular breed and size of cow, etc. that would meet the fertilizer needs of his grapefruit and banana trees because the specific kind of grapefruit Mr. Thin is growing requires a larger quantity of manure.

He received three quotes from local salespeople for a cow and a calf: 28 million VND, 25 million VND, and 23 million VND, approximately $1,200 USD, $1,072 USD, and $987 USD, respectively. He chose to purchase the cow and calf for 23 million VND because it was the most affordable and suitable and of best quality.

Nguyen Van Phan and Nguyen Van Lam's wheelchairs

Ms. Loan and Mr. Thin have padded Phan and Lam’s wheelchairs to fit their mobility needs.

The cows had arrived before we reached Mr. Thin’s house. The family was so excited about the cow and the calf that Ms. Loan put Phan in his wheelchair and introduced him to the cow and calf. Phan was so elated upon seeing them that Ms. Loan put the rope in his hands. She told us that he tried to pull the cow and walk with her in his wheelchair. Lam, hearing the commotion outside, became agitated and Mr. Thin brought him out to see the new animals as well. He seemed equally as thrilled, according to Mr. Thin. To me, the effects of the Agent Orange Campaign and what it represents are best captured by moments like these.

By the time we arrived, Phan, Lam, Mr. Thin, and Ms. Loan had spent a considerable amount of time with the cow and the calf. Their spirits were markedly different than the first time I met them in early July.

Nguyen Van Phan

Nguyen Van Phan (23 years old) smiles at us as we enter his home. We interact and moment’s later he shoots me a peace sign with his fingers. Ms. Loan says she’s not entirely sure where he’s picked up this habit.

We entered their home to formalize the cow exchange and were met by Phan’s smiling face as he lay on the bed (rather than the hammock). Mr. Hoc facilitated the exchange and had Mr. Thin sign the contract and agreement between himself and AEPD. Mr. Tan witnessed the process and formally approved the purchase. Ms. Hue signed additional documentation and received the amount owed to her for the cow and calf.

Mr. Thin signing the contract (2)

Mr. Thin signs the official business plan and his commitment to keeping the cow and calf. 

Mr. Hoc (AEPD Outreach Worker) and Ms. Hue (cow salesperson)

Mr. Hoc and Ms. Hue formalize the purchase (over tea and grapefruits). Ms. Hue is a fascinating businesswoman. She works for the Department of Culture and Society of a neighboring commune’s People’s Committee and breeds cows for sale. 

Local authority confirming/signing cow purchase

Mr. Tan signs as a witness and confirms the legal purchase of the cow and calf. 

The family has decided to use the cow and calf’s manure to fertilize their grapefruit and banana tree plantation. Mr. Thin intends to keep the cow and calf and continue to breed them. He will generate additional income by selling calves when he has a large enough herd. He confesses that they have made this decision because they “are thinking about [their family’s] future.” The income will be used for household expenses (food, medical supplies, doctor’s visits, etc.) and to help repay the loan he took out to plant grapefruit and banana trees.

Mr. Thin offers us grapefruit

Mr. Thin shares a few grapefruits with us as we are signing the documents and formalizing the contracts. 

Signing the contract (2)

We all eat grapefruit with quite a bit of enthusiasm.

To add to the good news, the family’s grapefruit trees have already started to bear fruit and they have earned 4 million VND (approximately $170 USD) from selling grapefruits this summer.

Mr. Hoc (AEPD Outreach Worker) hands over the cow to Mr. Thin

Mr. Hoc officially hands over the cow to Mr. Thin. Mr. Tan observes.

Once every document had been signed and discussed, Mr. Thin led us to his field where Mr. Hoc officially handed over the cow’s rope. And with this swift gesture, Mr. Thin and his family were the official and rightful owners of a cow and calf.

To ensure sustainability and longevity, we will continue to monitor and evaluate the Nguyen family’s progress as a result of their cow-rearing business plan; Mr. Hoc will continue to visit the family fairly regularly to check-in. I have high hopes for their success. Cheers to them, the Campaign, and to your kindness!

Ultimately, I hope this post chronicled the formal exchange of the cow and the calf but also the human spirit that carries this program and its place in igniting social change with those affected by Agent Orange.

For additional photographs of this visit and my other experiences in Vietnam, click here.

Posted By Marcela De Campos (Vietnam)

Posted Aug 22nd, 2018

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