One of the key projects during our time in Peak Sengh was providing the opportunity for a family to better their lives through micro-lending. This year, 15 families applied for the livestock program where they could choose to be loaned a flock of chickens, a pen of pigs or a female cow. The loan is for three years and in that time, the family needs to pay back the monetary amount of the chickens or pigs or, with the cows, either the cost of the cow or a calf that is born during the loan period. Each family had to spend four afternoons in classes learning about loans, interest on the loan, repayment of the loan and how to feed, shelter and vaccinate their animals. They also had to attend the health and hygeine lessons that followed each class. As you can see from the pictures below, the classes were very well attended. All 15 families this year chose cows!

On the last day of classes, each family had to choose a group of five familes to enter into a co-op together. Each group agreed to meet once a month and work together to make sure that each family was having a successful experience with the livestock program. The co-op was also to ensure that everyone was paying off their interest by working a 1/2 day each month at the school. The group then chose a president, vice president and secretary. Once the groups were formed, everyone was read the language in their loan agreements and then it was time to sign them. Most of the attendees can’t write so we had them provide their “signature”with a thumb print.

Once all the training classes were done we were able to spend some time with the villagers discussing their memories of living through the Pol Pot regime in the late 1970’s. While many of the community are too young the three villagers below lived through the horrors of that time. Quietly, they shared their thought, feelings and emotions of losing loved ones, working in the rice camps and being forced to be a soldier in the Khmer Rouge army. It was a great lesson in humility for all the Youthlinc volunteers.

After the carnival and closing ceremonies were complete, we presented the families with their cows. They were so excited and thankful! According to the villagers, all the cows are healthy and strong and each family left with smiles on their faces and their cows on a rope behind them.

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