Dak Tleub village is one of the most challenging border communes of the Sekong province of Laos. Due to the difficult terrain, terrible road conditions, harsh weather, and low education, hunger and poverty persist for the people here.
Hearing about the project of economic development, hunger eradication, and poverty alleviation for the people of Dak Tleub, and with the desire to continue the success of poverty reduction projects with passion fruit for farmers facing hardship in Vietnam, Nafoods quickly became a technical consulting partner, accompanying the International Labor Organization Office in Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos officially embarked on the project “Technical consultancy on planting and caring for passion fruit – creating agricultural livelihoods for ethnic minority farmers.”
The consulting team encountered many difficulties in the early days at the borderland between Vietnam and Laos. The distance from the Vietnamese border to Dak Tleub was only about one hundred kilometers away, but it took them all day to get there. The road is rough, jagged with rocks and potholes, making the motorbikes they rode there jump like horses. It was not a long distance, but the journey seemed extended due to many difficulties at the start of the project. Communication with the local body and people was also difficult due to the language barrier.
The company’s technical team could not connect with the International Labor Organization Office representative due to the weak and unreliable phone signal. For the next few days, the channel of information exchange between the technical staff and the people completely depended on the coordinator from the organization.
Contributing to the story of the first training sessions, a project member shared: “There was a time I was so frustrated and discouraged with the low education level as most of them were illiterate and had very poor listening comprehension skills. There needed to be videos and pictures to help with the explanation, but we did not have any available for them to understand. So both sides agreed it would be better to do everything together, even to the smallest detail.”
This result is not the best that we could achieve from this level of dedication. However, it is still a great result worthy of the efforts of the participating members of this project and the locals.
The result is proof that perseverance and consensus will dissolve all boundaries and barriers in terms of qualification, languages, customs, and lifestyles.
Ms. Truong Thi Hong Nhung, the project coordinator, smiled with satisfaction about the project’s success and shared: “Unfortunately, because of the complicated situation of the COVID 19 epidemic, it was impossible to join Dak Tleub in harvesting the first crop. As a project coordinator, who relays information from the field to partners, there was a time when I was saddened to hear stories from the technical team in the early days. It was an obstacle that was almost impossible to overcome. However, now Dak Tleub’s green working passion fruit orchards have brought real economic value to the people by helping 30 households find a way to overcome poverty and hunger and educate the children. They no longer have to follow their parents with bare heads or feet into the fields. And I believe that in the next 5-10 years, Dak Tleub will have “local interpreters” that can speak fluent English – the children that get to go to school, all thanks to the Passion fruit from this project.“