Starting and growing together
“Before, people avoided meeting me because they were afraid that I would borrow money or rice from them. Now, everyone comes to me, visits my house, and asks for help,” said Kong Meurt.
Kong Meurt, 48 years old, and his family immigrated to Salot District, Battambang Province with empty pockets in 2001, searching for a better life. He remembered his painful past very well, “We had nothing when we came here 12 years ago. We built a small house with a leafed-roof and bamboo walls.”
His wife, Seam Pov, 38 years old, stayed home to care for her small first-born daughter. Meurt dug and sold bamboo shoots from the nearby forest. He only earned $2.5 to $5 per day. When bamboo shoots ran out, he sold lacquer or mushrooms instead.
The couple experienced great discrimination and danger. Everyone in the village was fighting to survive. Poverty resulted in selfishness, cruelty, and hatred. “A man from whom we borrowed two plates, spoons, and a blanket once threatened us with a gun. My wife was very frightened. I just couldn’t believe that people could kill each other over such things.”
After two years in Salot, the family still lived in a miserable situation. They had no money or land to start their farming since a thick forest covers the land. They could not clear the land on their own – they would need a tractor or at least more labor. The couple sought capital to start their farming. “No one would lend us money because we were too poor,” said Meurt.
Soon after launching operations in Salot, VisionFund offered Meurt and his wife their first loan of US$25 for one hectare of clear land, They were able to start their farming journey.
“We grew beans during the first loan cycle, which gave us $500 per year. The second loan of US$100 helped us buy another hectare of farmland. We earned US$1,500 per year from two hectares of farmland,” said Meurt. They have benefited from 10 cycles of loans, from as small as US$25 to US$2,500, to buy more land. They now grow different kinds of crops, such as cassava, beans, rice, sesame, also raise pigs and chicken.
The couple now lives with great pride. They have much to be thankful for. Their two daughters go to school with a promising future. They own 3 hectares of rice fields and 7 hectares of farmland.
Their annual income increases every year due to the expansion of their farming. They are now building a bigger wooden house (8.5m * 11m) above a concrete ground floor. The family has nothing to wish for but the higher education of their daughters.
Working together for 10 years, Meurt is more than a client to VisionFund. He is a source of pride for VisionFund and his community. He created a new life for himself and his family by taking advantage of VisionFund’s 10 years of services. VisionFund actively works with his family, understanding their needs and difficulties to be able to help them achieve their goals. He is one example of thousands of people VisionFund has helped to lift out of poverty into a better, more prosperous life.