Last year, a Holt supporter purchased a cow as a Gift of Hope for a family in need. They didn’t know where it would go or who would receive it — but it went to the Tran family in Vietnam, and it drastically changed their life.
In 2013, the Tran family was in crisis.
Father, mother, daughter, son, grandmother and great-grandmother all lived together in a 100-year-old house that was becoming more weak and dangerous with each passing day. In January 2012, the father had suffered a stroke that left him physically and mentally disabled, unable to work and provide for his family. The family sold their motorbike and cow in order to pay for his medical expenses. Mrs. Tran then became the sole provider for all four generations of her household. She worked tirelessly to make a sufficient income from growing rice and catching shellfish. She loves her children dearly and has always wanted to give them the very best that she could, but despite all her hard work, it wasn’t enough. She worried continually about making enough to feed and clothe the family, not to mention the children’s education expenses.
The Tran family was in need of hope.
Have you ever really thought about what hope is? Hope is the small but strong light that shines in the midst of dark times. It is the promise of something better to come. Hope allows you to transcend your difficulties and fight through them, knowing that eventually things will be okay. Hope comes by way of faith and encouraging words. Sometimes hope can even be tangible — and come in the most unique of packages.
For the Tran family, hope came by way of a cow.
The gift of a cow may seem like a strange gift, but for a struggling family in a rural farming area, it has long-lasting and positive implications. A cow can provide a family with fertilizer, calves and meat. Any surplus of these products can be sold as part of a small business — providing income for the family and empowering them to become self-reliant. With the gift of a cow comes nourishment, provision and an escape from hunger and poverty.
A cow can mean hope to a struggling family. However, the cost of purchasing a cow is far too high for the average Vietnamese family like the Trans to save enough money for the initial investment.
Last year, a Holt supporter purchased a cow for $200 as a Gift of Hope for a family in need. They didn’t know where it would go or who would receive it — but it went to the Tran family in Vietnam, and it drastically changed their life.
So often, a gift of a cow, pig or goat — or a microloan to start a small business — is all a family needs to begin to overcome extreme poverty. If they are at risk of separating from their children, a cow can keep a family strong and together. A cow can even send a child to school — providing the funds for essentials like uniforms, books and fees!
Today, the Tran family is doing well! Their first cow gave birth to a male calf which they sold for $386. They used half of the money to buy uniforms, school fees and materials for the children, who are flourishing in their studies. Then they used the rest of the profit to help buy another female calf, which they plan to keep and breed as a way to continue their profit.
Just like hope, Gifts of Hope come in all shapes and sizes. This holiday season, choose from cows, chickens, pigs, donkeys and goats; give resources like clothing and shoes, vocational training and educational support; provide supplies to a Holt care center, give lifesaving food or help a child get vaccinated. Each of these items are tangible gifts of hope to a family or child who desperately needs it, and a beautiful way to honor the ones you love.
You may also remember the Tran family from a story we wrote about them earlier this year. In January 2015 a group of Holt board members made a 12-day trip to Vietnam to see and learn about Holt’s work in the country. Board member Ken Matsuura and his wife, Diane, were part of this trip. While there, they saw Holt family strengthening programs, as well as Holt-supported daycare centers and care centers for children with special needs. During their visit, they also met the Tran family, who they said especially tugged at their hearts.
“As we marveled at their quiet but strong spirit, we couldn’t help but notice the awful, dangerous conditions of their 100-year-old house,” said Ken Matsuura. Compelled by meeting this family and seeing their need, they decided to help build them a house.The home was finished in September 2015 — giving the Tran family extra physical and financial security for the years ahead.
A new house and a cow have made all the difference for the Tran family — the difference between hunger and having nutritious food, between being unable to afford school and receiving an education, between barely getting by and having a successful, sustainable business. Most of all, these gifts are the difference between despair and hope.
We love seeing the transformation that occurs as families receive the resources and tools they need to provide for themselves. The result can be life changing — and it all begins with just a little bit of hope.
Megan Herriott | Marketing Assistant