Soontorn Inthayok is a day laborer and part-time guard, serving as the primary wage earner for his family in Northern Thailand.
The 49-year-old provides for his older sister, who is mentally disabled, and for his son, who is attending technical college. He also overcomes his own personal disability to bring home earnings of approximately $300, in U.S. dollars, per month.
Despite his extremely hard work, Soontorn often was unable to earn enough income to cover the family’s monthly expenses of food, utilities and tuition.
But that trend began to change for the family when Soontorn was selected to participate in the SDSU University Chicken and Cattle Farming Project.
The Social Development and Service Unit in Northern Thailand, which is supported by the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, provides a full economic and agricultural toolbox to help subsistence farmers succeed.
Through the program, participants learn to run their businesses more efficiently.
Soontorn received training on budgeting, preparation and how to properly care for chicken. He was then entrusted with grant money to begin a small chicken farm. He used the funds to build a chicken coop on his property and to purchase the needed equipment and feed to care for 25 chickens.
“When we first started to raise chickens, we used the eggs for family use in cooking,” Soontorn said. “Every 3-5 days we collect more than 10 eggs, we have plenty of eggs to fry and boil. We do not have to buy eggs at the market anymore.”
Soontorn’s family now has enough eggs for their own consumption and enough leftover to sell to friends and neighbors. By selling each egg for 3 bath (about 8.5 cents) the family is earning an additional 300-400 bath per month.
Some of the chickens are used for eating, adding much needed protein to their diets and others have been shared with his local church and neighbors.
Participants in the SDSU Chicken and Cattle Farming Project are selected based upon greatest need, with preference given to those with disabilities who have need for additional income. Local churches recommend people in their community for consideration and oversee the projects for the three years.
The project couldn’t operate without the Hunger Offering’s support, said Hunter Huff, staff member for SDSU.
“The lives of the participants are changed forever and they are able to see the love of Christ through the actions, care and love of local believers,” he said. “The funds are making a huge difference in the lives of many people who society has forgotten. The participants are truly the ‘least of these.’”
— This story was originally published at TexasBaptists.org.