3 Volume 33 No. 3 | Spring 2023 Society Matters Fr Truong lays plans to help villagers build sustainability Rising prices for eggs and a lack of local availability meant that Fr Truong Le SVD’s parishioners in a rural Thailand village were going without essential protein, so Fr Truong decided to do something about it, not by purchasing eggs, but by buying in egg-laying chickens. Fr Truong, a member of the Thailand District of the SVD Australia Province, said the project, to go right to the source of the egg-scarcity, was funded by generous donations. “I always have ideas for projects to help the villagers,” he says. “They all depend on the available funding. “The more I do, the more benefactors want to participate in the mission. And so, I was approached with donations and was asked, ‘What can you do with this amount?’ Trust me, I love that questions because I always have an answer.” Fr Truong says that with the location of the village where he is parish priest being quite rural, there are not many shops or facilities. “There’s no market or convenience store, but one shop in one of the villager’s houses carries minimal snacks and drinks,” he says. “People would have to travel to the next biggest village to buy eggs or vegetables, which they don’t usually do due to transportation expenses and higher prices.” Fr Truong says eggs are quite a valuable commodity in the village, with rising prices. “The egg-laying chicken project hopes to achieve a sustainable source of protein for the villagers, with five chickens per family,” he says. “The chickens are grown and ready to lay eggs, so they were more expensive, about 250 Baht or 11 AUD. Fr Truong delivering chickens to local villagers Fr Truong Le SVD unloads some of the laying chickens Fr Truong Le’s egg-laying chickens “Before I deliver the chickens, the villagers must be obliged by a few conditions. Firstly, they cannot sell the chickens, and secondly, they must build a chicken coop. Some villagers were elderly and living alone, so our parishioners were ready to help them build a sturdy chicken coop.” Fr Truong has delivered his first batch of 40 chickens to eight families and is working on the second batch of 50 chickens for 10 families. “It all depends on when the families are ready to receive the chickens,” he says. “And I’ve also asked them to keep count of the eggs for three months to see if this project is indeed sustainable and to see the financial impact.” Fr Truong says that while the egg-laying chicken project is a start, he still has a way to go with his micro-farming initiatives, designed to help his parishioners create sustainable forms of food supply and income.