Hongkham’s story: Hungering to Give Back in Laos

Hongkham Phengsaphone, age 36, holds a bowl of lentils at the Nahangnoy Primary School, where CRS’ LEAPS program provides students with a free school lunch. Photo by Jim Stipe/Catholic Relief Services

Hongkham Phengsaphone, age 36, holds a bowl of lentils at the Nahangnoy Primary School, where CRS’ LEAPS program provides students with a free school lunch. Photo by Jim Stipe/Catholic Relief Services

Hongkham lives close to where she grew up in Nongdeune, Laos, with her husband and their five boys. Her husband is a farmer, and her family relied on his crops for food and income. When Hongkham’s husband got sick, the family had to sell a lot of what they owned-including their land-to pay for medicine. Soon, the family faced real hunger.

Then Hongkham found an opportunity to use her love of cooking to help her family and community through CRS’ school literacy and hunger program. She volunteers as a cook at her children’s school, which provides free school lunches for students, literacy training for teachers and principals, and nutrition training. Hongkham uses that training in the school kitchen-and when she’s cooking for her family at home.

She also receives a monthly ration of food to take home, which helps her family grow and thrive. But the best part about CRS’ program is that students are learning to read and write. Hongkham says that before the program started, students would go home and often wouldn’t return for afternoon classes, but now, students return to school after morning classes to receive their free and nutritious lunch. She even sees the change in her own children-in their studies and their health.

Good nutrition has made a real difference in the lives of the people of Laos.

Read more stories about how Lenten alms become lifesaving aid at crsricebowl.org.

Eric ClaytonEric Clayton is CRS Rice Bowl Program Officer at Catholic Relief Services (CRS).


 

This Lent, USCCB is partnering with CRS to bring you Stories of Hope from CRS Rice Bowl, the Lenten faith-in-action program for families and faith communities. Through CRS Rice Bowl, we hear stories from our brothers and sisters in need worldwide, and devote our Lenten prayers, fasting and gifts to change the lives of the poor.

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