Picture it: Peak Sneng, Cambodia, June 2011. A simple family living in a wooden hut glimpses 40 strange creatures arriving in vans through the banyan trees. Apprehensive at first, they peek through the leaves at the visitors and decide if they should say hello. They don’t seem like the regular tourists, whom they rarely see this far from the city, especially since instead of carrying cameras; they are carrying huge duffle bags. The 40 strangers lay out the bags and start unpacking everything from pencils and erasers to Band-aids and toothbrushes to soccer balls and plastic spades. This is a strange group indeed! At this point, a smartly dressed Cambodian moves toward the curious family and beckons them to welcome the visitors. They have come all the way from the USA to work with the village for two whole weeks: to work at the local school and the orphanage, to help at the medical clinic down the road, to build bathrooms at the school, to install water filtration units for the community, and to help all of the families in the area with a program they call “Livestock Exchange.”

The Livestock Exchange program is an initiative which the micro-finance committee on the Cambodia Youthlinc team is pursuing to help Cambodian families. We are raising money to purchase animals for this community. The recipient families can then raise and breed the animals, give the offspring to other families in the community, and start making a living from the animals. Over time, each family will own some kind of livestock, such as chickens, pigs, or cows. Once they have these animals, the families will be able to use and sell the eggs from the chickens, use the cows for milk and labor in the fields, and raise pigs to sell at the market. The Livestock Exchange program is, in a way, like giving a start up loan for a business. You start with something small, put in some work, and grow your wealth. The village of Peak Sneng is in extreme poverty and worries about feeding their families from day to day, so starting a Livestock Exchange program is a great first step to get the local economy stabilized and able to eventually grow. We are also going to help them start growing gardens so they will also have fresh produce to eat throughout the year.

In order to get this initiative going, we need your help! Yes, you, blog reader! And the way you can help is very simple. We, the micro-finance committee, are running a program called Animals for Easter. What you do is, choose what you want to donate (Garden Seed Basket, Flock of Chicks, Pig, or Cow), fill out the information on the form, send a check to Youthlinc, and we will buy, with your money, what you marked when we get to Cambodia this summer. We will donate it for you. In return for your donation, we will send you three things: 1) a card in time for Easter about what you have purchased (you can donate something in another person’s name as a gift to them for Easter), 2) an update within the next year about how the animals Youthlinc donated are helping the community, and 3) a letter concerning your donation for tax purposes—after all Youthlinc is a 501(c) Non-Profit, and any donation you give is tax-deductible!

We need your help to improve the lives of the families in Peak Sneng, Cambodia! Please tell your friends and family about this program so they will have an opportunity to help as well.

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