Let me introduce you to Lola and her life-changing pigs!
Last month I was in Thailand meeting with our COCOA partners from South Sudan, India, Bangladesh, Thailand and Vanuatu. I also visited some of the projects coordinated by the Churches of Christ Thailand (CCT) Social Development and Services Unit (SDSU).
There I met Lola who is from the Lahu people, a group of hill tribes in the far north of Thailand spanning the border with Myanmar. Multiple Lahu tribes can be found across this region, living off the land, growing rice, corn and bananas. They only use organic fertilisers and avoid pesticides because they care deeply for the land, but with increasing changes to the climate (they have been experiencing unusual heatwaves) annual crops have been failing, leaving these people in a more vulnerable position, socially and economically.
Thankfully, a new pig farming initiative introduced by Global Mission Partners is providing hope in the form of a new income stream.
Our partner, the Churches of Christ Thailand (CCT), works with local churches in communities facing hardship. This team has previously piloted chicken farming, but I learnt that culturally, chickens are good for the family egg and protein needs but due to transportation, are more difficult for market sale. Pigs, however, are proving to be more successful - especially the black pig, which is unique to this region and will fetch a better price than the typical pink variety.
One pig can sell for 1,000 Baht (about $45 AUD) and is supplementing family incomes outside of the annual harvests of rice and corn. I heard how parents can now afford to send their children to school and that the pig meat is improving everyone’s diets. A touching aspect to this story is the way the Lahu Christians, even though quite poor themselves, tithe their income and ensure they support other churches, missionaries and social projects. This new income stream is benefitting people even further in remote locations.
Raising a few pigs each year might seem small scale for some of us, but for Lola and her family, it’s making a world of difference!
You have likely received an email or letter from me recently, inviting you to support our mid-year appeal. I know the cost of living is affecting many of us, but I hope we can take inspiration from Lola and her community. While living in very humble and basic homes made of bamboo and grass thatch, with limited resources, they remain committed to tithing for the purposes of Christian mission and helping others. May we do likewise!
John Lamerton, Executive Officer