The Fourth Year


Micro-banking 

13 families each received a loan of AUD 330 for 2 years at the lowest rate we can charge without disrupting programmes of NGOs and charities about the place. The interest goes towards the cost of supervising the scheme.

Our local partners, the Vietnam Women’s Union helps select poor families who are not only asset poor but who lack the capacity to borrow money from anyone. We were delighted to meet these women who by local custom are charged with the responsibility for almost all crucial family issues including health, education and finance. They were excited at the meeting: most have never seen so much money and they all planned on buying pigs and becoming small breeders, something the mountain women excel at. They were of course required to sign a basic document so as to impress upon them the gravity of each transaction and it enables us to satisfy requirements of sound governance.

We had run a small pilot the year before and wonderful tales are whispered of women trading some piglets for a share of a calf and other such wheeling and dealing, but we will learn in 6 months of their progress. There will of course be enormous leniency in case of hardship as this is an exercise in stress relief and not stress imposition.

Pass the Pig

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Recipients of Pass the Pig project

The designer of this plan, Jan, came up with $400 to kick it off. A poor family receives $100 with which to purchase a female piglet of their choice. In reality the decision as to the breed rests with the woman of the house, but a pig it has to be.

A boar is hired on some mysterious basis (we decided not to inquire too deeply into that) and from each of the first 2 litters 1 female piglet is handed to another poor family selected by the VWU and approved by Platypus. That is the end of it and hopefully a small pig breeder is born. The new recipients become party to the same scheme.

Word of what we were attempting reached the ears of young Ariane Yaxley, who with her mate Tilly Banfield galvanised their primary school classmates at Freshwater Bay School and raised $750! Grandpa Joe found a matching sum somewhere and suddenly the game was on. Other people came on board and in the end 27 women received money for a pig and it was a pleasure meeting them and discussing with them what they hoped to achieve. I also met a number of the pigs and it was obvious that everyone is making the most of an opportunity that probably otherwise not come their way. A helping hand is never wasted in those parts.

The Women’s Union will help them and point out to them the accelerator effect of retaining sows and building up the pig squadrons.

The women were intrigued to learn that the driving force behind the gifts was a group of highly-motivated junior schoolgirls but they know better than most that one can never underestimate girl-power.

There was a signature required, both for purposes of audit and for confirmation of commitment to share their good fortune with others in due course.

Bravo Ariane, Tilly and the Freshwater Bay School Hotshots!

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