Wayne Hester and his wife, Tricia, moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with their three boys in 2011. Wayne serves as an Education Technical Adviser with Samaritan’s Purse Cambodia.
Teaching our boys the meaning of Christmas and to be givers has been a priority for Tricia and me. We’ve also wanted to teach our boys to be wise in their giving and to look for ways to invest in people that have a long-term effect.
One of the great tools we’ve used is a Christmas gift catalog that serves people in need, like the one Samaritan’s Purse sends out every year. The idea is that you can purchase a gift for someone in need. But these aren’t ordinary gifts; they are really an investment in people’s future.We would always decide what to give as a family. Our boys, being animal lovers, always chose to give the gift of chickens or pigs to a family in a developing country. We’d talk about how the chickens or pigs weren’t a one-time gift but something that would continue to give if the person who received it learned how to turn it into a small business.
We’ve done things like this before, but we were never able to see firsthand what the real outcome was in people’s lives. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a family in Kampong Chhnang province who received one of these gifts in 2012. I was completely shocked by what I saw.
How Pigs Can Change a Life
This family was a recipient of pigs through the Seeds of Hope here in Cambodia. Working with Samaritan’s Purse, I’ve learned families receive much more than just the animals. They receive training in animal husbandry, assistance with constructing a proper pigpen, and even training on marketing their pigs once they are ready to sell, increasing the price they receive.
Khiem Moeun and her family were living with a number of challenges. She had eight family members living in a one-room thatch and bamboo home. Her three teenage children not only had to live in this cramped house with five other family members, but they also had a difficult time obtaining an education and staying healthy.
Moeun and her family received help with starting a vegetable garden, and raising chickens and pigs. Moeun soon became successful at raising and marketing her animals. She was an entrepreneur who simply needed a little help getting started. She soon realized she was a natural.Moeun started out by raising four pigs. She then sold those, saved the profits, and raised four more.
Four pigs turned to eight and eight turned to 16. Soon she had sold the 16 and decided it was time to recognize a dream she had for her family. The original small investment in four little piglets had quickly turned into enough savings to build a new home for her and her family. They went from a small thatched home to a large wooden home that is big enough for the whole family and is much more secure.
However, she didn’t stop there. She continued to increase the number of pigs she was raising and saved the profits to purchase a motorbike for the family. Now her teenagers can travel to school.
With the combined income and fresh food from her chickens, vegetables, and pigs, the family’s life has been completely changed. What was once a desperate situation is now a healthy, happy home where everyone has big dreams for the future!
While I was in the village, her teenage children helped lead the young people in a song and dance performance at a small village church. As we talked with members of the village, the chief told us this family was not the only success story. He said that as a result of the Seeds of Hope project in his village, many families have now seen increased income, domestic violence cases have dropped significantly, and mothers and fathers have stopped having to migrate to other provinces or countries to work for income. This has led to healthier, stable families throughout the village.
Our boys now know the full impact a simple gift of pigs can have on a family in need.