Changing lives

Vegetable seeds help us to recover after floods

"After the deadly floods in October 2010, the only way we could rebuild our livelihood was by planting vegetables", says Mr Khuong.

There were two deadly floods within weeks of each other, with devastating impact on Quang Binh Province. Challenge to Change received funds from Caritas Switzerland and Swiss Solidarity to support 1000 families with emergency supplies and enabling them to recover their livelihoods. Local fieldwork was carried out by a Vietnamese charity - the Association for Empowerment of People with Disabilities.

Name: Mr Pham Van Khuong

Age: 57

Location: Quang Van and Quang Tien Communes, Quang Trach District, Quang Binh Province

Mr Pham Van Khuong says:

“Our family benefited from bean, chili and Chinese cabbage seeds, and 50 kg of organic fertilizer.  The support from Challenge to Change and its partners was timely, and not only satisfied our family’s basic needs but also helped us to earn a small amount of money, about 300,000 Dong (£10)in cash.  But there are still risks in growing vegetables such as unpredictable change of weather and unstable market prices, and the profit from selling vegetables is very low.”

“For example, we wanted to grow tomatoes, but the whole village lost its tomatoes this year because of unusual rain patterns and unusual cold spells which prevented the plants from giving a good crop.  Insects are also a great threat.  Growing isn’t easy here.  The sandy soil is swampy in the rainy season and barren in the dry season. We still need financial support and technical advice on transforming the soil, and growing vegetables organically.”


Another beneficiary is Mrs Tran Thi Sam,, age 77.  She lives alone with 2 small pieces of garden, and has always been a keen vegetable gardener.


“I saved some seeds of high-value vegetables on the second floor of my house, so I could use them after the flood”, she says.


The floods enabled community members to show their solidarity, and the traditional knowledge of elderly people, in coping with difficulty, was much appreciated.


“I was able to show some younger folk how to make a livelihood from vegetables”, says Mrs Sam.



Garden of Mr Hoang Minh Cac and his family

Hoang Minh Cac and Hoang Thi Uyen


Mr Hoang Minh Cac and his wife Mrs Hoang Thi Uyen are nearly 70 years old.  After the flood, their new vegetable garden, supported by the Challenge to Change project, gave them an essential income for 3 months.  Now they continue to use the garden, as a source of income and also because, they say, “the garden refreshes our souls.”

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