This is Mr. Houng. He is a Bombie victim.
We first met Mr. Houng a couple of years ago, he was depressed and sad most of the time. He was having a difficult time finding any resources that would help him get back on his feet. Give Children A Choice offered to help him start a mini-mart at that first meeting. At that time he lacked the confidence in himself but he remembered that offer and earlier this year he contacted our team, he was interested. Mr. Houng lost his hands and the sight in one eye over 20 years ago from a bombie left by the US Secret War in Xieng Khouang, Laos. His unsighted, infected eye infected his other eye, leaving him totally blind. Mr. Houng became totally dependent on his family (wife and three sons) and his neighbors.
One of the things we ask the potential mini-mart owners to do is to make an effort to build a store front and we offer financial assistance for that as well. He needed financial assistance to put the roof on the building. He, along with the help and support of his family, was ready to start operating a mini-mart. One of the wonderful things about offering assistance to UXO victims is to see the change in them when they realize that they can earn a living, contribute to their community and support their families once again.
GCAC’s Coordinator Thongchanh Vilayvong provided initial training on store management, inventory management, financial management and sales. He will continue to guide him and monitor his progress.
Success! Mr. Houng opened his mini-mart in late June, has customers coming in daily. He made $180 USD and profits of $30 USD in less than two weeks time. It’s the planting season, so many villagers are living next to their rice fields. When planting season is over, he is hoping for more customers. His wife decided to open a noodle shop while her husband manages the mini-mart. The mini-mart has created new hopes for Mr. Houng and his family.
At the current pace, Mr. Houng’s mini-mart profit will be $850 USD a year, about 60% of the average national per capital income. Tremendous boost for Mr. Houng, whose income for the last 20 years was ZERO. Let’s hope for continued sales growth.
Another successful small business operation for a UXO survivor who needed just a small boost at the beginning to regain his self confidence, to be able to support his family once again and to become a contributing member of his community.