Union brings hope to poor families
|A farmer harvests
flowers at Tay Tuu Commune, Tu Liem District, Ha Noi. — VNA/VNS Photo
HA NOI — Lives of women
such as Ngo Thi Hung and Ngyen Thi Du from Cat Thuong Commune, a suburban
district of Ha Noi, have remarkably changed since getting support from the Ha
Noi Women’s Union.
Ngo Thi Hung recalled her
hard time: when she first got married she was homeless and barely had enough
food to survive. Her husband, a wounded soldier without a disability allowance
due to lack of documentation, sometimes went mad and woke the family in the
middle of the night. The couple earned a living by mowing lawns and selling the
clippings to horse owners. Often, they would give up their meals for their
children and go to bed hungry.
Fortunately, the commune’s
Women’s Union guaranteed Hung a bank loan of VND5 million (US$312) and a
productive cow from the commune people’s committee. Thanks to their support,
she was able to raise chickens and buy food for her cow. The income from her
livestock eased her financial burdens to the point where her family paid off
their debt, and confidently took out another bank loan. "We have set aside
VND13 million ($812) to repair our kitchen, bathroom and toilet. My daughters
are now married; one of them supplies vegetables for me to sell from home so I
can earn VND20,000 and 30,000 ($1.25-$1.85) a day," said Hung.
Nguyen Thi Du from Dong Ba
Hamlet, Cat Thuong Commune suffered in poverty as well. Her husband was a
gambler and lost their house and land to pay off gambling debt. She left home
with her three young children and was faced with the immense challenge of
supporting a family of four on her own. She settled down in a tent near the
river bank. "We could not sleep many times because of anxiety that high
waves and strong wind would collapse the tent," Du said. She had to ask for
accommodation in a pre-school.
The local Women’s Union
once again came to the rescue. They asked the commune’s Party Committee,
People’s Committee and Dong Ba co-operative to lend Du three sao (about 1,000
sq.m) of cultivated land on the river bank. The union also found jobs for her
two sons in a woodworking establishment with salaries of VND400,000 and 500,000
(US$25 - US$31) per month.
Du’s family was able to
improve their living conditions. "Seeing that there was a lot of fallow
grass on the river edge, suitable for raising cows, we asked the Hunger
Eradication and Poverty Reduction board to lend her a productive milk cow worth
VND3.2 million ($200) and guarantee her a loan of VND5 million ($312) from the
Social Policy Bank," said a member of the Women Union. Du was also
enrolled in training courses on raising productive cows. "After five years,
the cow had calves, now we have six," Du said happily. She was able to
afford 80 square meters of land on which she and her sons established a
In 2006, sixteen local
Women’s Union branches in Tu Liem District were able to rescue 72 households
from poverty. The district Women’s Union’s goal is that each inferior union
will assist six families.
The vice chairwoman of the
Women’s Union of Tay Tuu Commune, famed for a flower supply source for Ha Noi
and other provinces, said: "ninety per cent of Tay Tuu land is used to
plant flowers. Thus, our union has helped six families to earn living from
"Planting flowers is
a very strenuous job," said Chu Thi Thuy from Tay Tuu commune. "We
spend all morning watering flowers, and all afternoon harvesting them. In the
evening we have to sort them and at 10pm bring them to the flower markets as far
away as Quang Ba, Tay Ho district to sell them to traders from Hai Phong."
Planting trees implies
risks. In 2006, she lost her entire crop in a disastrous hail storm. The
4,600-square-metre field was destroyed; her life savings were gone with the
wind. Fortunately, the local authority compensated her and other flower growers
in the neighbourhood affected by the storm. Planting flowers, despite its many
hardships such as insects and drought, has made her family more comfortable.
In the last five years, 90
per cent of households in Ha Noi have been rescued from poverty thanks to bank
loans. This represents a huge reduction in the number of poor family in Ha Noi.
The city Women’s Union has also organised many science-technology transfer
courses to help disadvantaged women use their loans effectively. — VNS