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Friday, July 18, 2008

The evidence is in...

We continue to receive stories from our Cambodian staff members about the people who inspire them. In fact, these stories should further inspire us all to do more to help the poor.

Making smart investments in the lives of motivated, intelligent, and terribly under-privileged people is a wonderful and meaningful use of our time, energy, and money.

This becomes acutely clear when we look at the evidence that life in HOPE International Development Agency - supported communities presents to us.

Our Cambodian staff member Sophorn, shares this story with us. She did the translation herself as part of her English studies.

"Nhem Sophal is a 55 year old man who lost his hand while he was in the army.

Sophal’s family is poor. Only one of his sons has gone to school, and he had to live in a pagoda near the school because his family’s house was so far away.

Before Sophal's family received a water buffalo from HOPE International Development Agency, they found it very difficult to take care of their rice field and grow vegetables. The family always had to hire someone else’s buffalo or ox and as such, they could only farm 0.5 hectares of land.

Of the 30-40 thung rice crop they would harvest, 20 thungs of rice paddy had to be paid to the owner of the buffalo or ox. Sometimes they could not hire a buffalo because not many people had draft animals and those that did were busy with their own fields. When this happened, the family’s crop was even smaller. They would not have enough rice to eat and had to borrow at 150% interest. They often ate sweet potato or other kinds of potato instead of rice. With an income of only $25 to $50 a month, the family often had to work for other people.

With the water buffalo provided by HOPE International Development Agency, Sophal’s family is now much better off. They can farm a bigger piece of land than before (1 hectare) and can grow more vegetables. They now get 40-80 thungs of rice from their fields, rather than just 30, and grow vegetables throughout the year.

The family also shares their buffalo with their married son. Growing vegetables and farming rice allows Sophal and his family to make more money and have enough food to eat. Today they are happy. Their buffalo is pregnant and she will give birth soon. Their son is almost ready to graduate as a primary school teacher.

In the future, Sophal hopes to have three or four buffalo, wants to buy a water pump to irrigate his fields, and wants to dig a pond so he’ll always have access to water."

It makes us think… if a person like Sophal can do all of this with one draft animal, what are we capable of doing with everything we have available to us?

Have we challenged ourselves enough? Especially when we know for a fact that what we do and what we give can bring this much prosperity. How much more, then, do we want to do and give? How many more people like Sophal and his family are waiting for our answer to that question?

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