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“It starts from the heart. Not from skill, but from compassion.”

Vandong’s response to the question of how, as founder of BSDA, started the NGO that would foster a community of social enterprise in Kampong Cham, was nothing short of inspiring.

And here we are, 22 days from entering the wonderful country of Cambodia, now going our separate ways after a month of constant sweating, adventuring, questioning, laughing, and learning. Through this experience, the GROW team has interviewed over 30 beneficiaries from both the Financing Futures (FF) Project and Chicken Raising Project (CRP). After the workshop with the FF beneficiaries as Mason previously touched on in the previous post, and organizing a highly successful cooking class in which the students at the Rice Field Kids Village taught how to cook fried rice and Chinese fried noodles (both of which filled us for hours – the dishes were delicious) to the beneficiaries as a form of social enterprise, we too became inspired to learn how to cook these meals, and bring the recipes back with us to the Denver community. Both Mason and Peter got their hands dirty in the cooking class – chopping the vegetables, frying the noodles, and getting laughed at (Evan and I also contributed by taking videos and photos of the boys getting made fun of for their ways of cooking).

Financing Futures has shown great progress in one short year. Listed are a few reports from compiling the information during interviews:

– 100% of the 15 beneficiaries interviewed feel that their business is successful

– 92.31% feel that they make enough money to support their family, and that the provided loan is enough to support the business

– An average of $50.33 was able to be saved by the families each month, with an income of $160.54 per month.

We are extremely satisfied with the responses given by the beneficiaries as the project continues to expand and improve. By Summer 2017, 20 new beneficiaries will be added to the project, for a total of 40! In our final presentation, we outlined several outcomes that entail goals and specific activities to be followed to ensure progress and movements toward sustainability. Check out the presentation here!

After meeting with 17 of the 70 beneficiaries for the Chicken Raising Project, we focused our interviews on obtaining feedback on how the businesses have improved over its 3 year course, the health conditions of the individuals and families, and responses to loan support in order to accurately judge the expected transition from the CRP to FF Project. Through this process, we encountered a few obstacles and were given some insight on the project as a whole. On our first day of interviews, we found it difficult on how to appropriately ask the health conditions and effects of HIV/AIDS of the individuals as the interviews were conducted with several other community members. This was later adjusted by performing interviews at single home visits to gain more accurate responses of sensitive health questions. It was also expressed in the interviews that families wanted additional loans to support their business. A reoccurring theme overrides the past years with chicken raising. The chickens have been dying due to the heat and climate change of drastic transitions from the wet and dry season. Through later brainstorming and discussions with JiaLi, we are hoping to implement a poster training system in which the Community Support Volunteers (CSVs) of the beneficiaries will provide training on how to prevent chicken mortality through several adjustments of raising.

Updates of the CRP:

– 100% of the beneficiaries feel they are knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS, and majority are compliant with taking medicine

– 52.94% felt that they made enough money to support their family, with the loan amount being enough to support the business

Important to note: In the 2015-2016 report, 65% of individuals felt that they did not need additional support from BSDA in loans. This has concerned us, as we have a main focus on sustainability and moving forward with transition.

– An average of $11.00 per month was saved by the families

Also important to note the difference of this number with what was recorded from the FF Project.

In our final presentation to the BSDA staff, we addressed outcomes for both projects in hopes of continuing each. Also outlined in the presentation is the budget breakdown.

After presenting, we said our goodbyes to the staff, but not before showing a little video that Peter made highlighting some wonderful moments in Cambodia! Check it out here.

The GROW team wants to greatly thank the BSDA staff and beneficiaries, mentioning Vandong, JiaLi, Sophors, Chhunleng, Manuel, and Sokhoeun for their endless support in our pursuits, and their outpouring compassion for the world around them.

And huge thanks to our chapter for staying tuned with us through all of this. We can’t wait to share our journey with you in person! Until next time,

Cara

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