Tlangnunthang was once a poor casual laborer in India with no steady income and a grim future, but now he has become a successful rubber entrepreneur, earning a sustainable income and dreaming big.
Aiming to help him generate a sustainable income, World Vision gave him 200 rubber tree saplings, which have enabled his family to have access to good food, health, and education. And two of his children are sponsored through World Vision!
Tlangnunthang distinctly remembers the days when he had to go to work with griping hunger pains in his stomach.
"Poverty deprived me of my basic needs to food, clothing, education. This thought played on my mind every minute, every hour," he says.
Life got harder when Tlangnunthang started a family of his own. Being a high school dropout, he was unable to find a decent job and had no steady income. Woodcutting, picking up stones, or repairing vehicles, Tlangnunthang took any job he could find to support his family.
Dreaming of starting a garden, Tlangnunthang tried his best to save whatever little he could to buy a piece of land.
"When I was newly married, before I got the land, I used to think how I will take care of my family, [with] no source of income. When I watched the villagers getting some output from their garden, which helped them run the family, I was motivated to push harder to make means to acquire some land," says Tlangnunthang.
After receiving benefits from the government, despite his best efforts to cultivate the land, Tlangnunthang’s garden refused to sprout.
When World Vision started working in the region, the staff performed resource mapping of the area.
"The land had become infertile due to continuous practice of zoom cultivation,” says Chandrakanto, a project manager for World Vision India. “We found that the climate and soil were good for promoting rubber plantations. We motivated and encouraged people to choose to grow rubber."
World Vision brought leaders of the community to visit government farms and a training center to show how a rubber plantation works. Tlangnunthang was one who visited the center.
To promote the cultivation of rubber, as part of an economic development assistance program, World Vision gave rubber saplings to beneficiaries aiming to generate sustainable income, including Tlangnunthang.
"I was fortunate to be one of the first beneficiaries of World Vision’s program, in which I got 200 saplings,” he says. “World Vision also facilitated training on managing rubber plantations. I was taught how to plant the saplings, how deep to dig before planting the saplings, what is the ideal distance that needs to be maintained between one plant and another so that the yield is high, and other processes regarding rubber cultivation."
The rubber plantation has given Tlangnunthang a reason to dream for a better future.
In one month, Tlangnunthang collects 50-60 kilograms of rubber. Now from his partly matured plantation, Tlangnunthang earns US$167 per month. It gives him a sustainable means of providing a better life for his three children.
"All the money I earn I invest in the future of my children, on giving them a better life," he says.
Tlangnunthang’s daughters, Helen, age 10, and Eli, age 8, are part of World Vision’s sponsorship program.
"When I grow up I want to become a teacher," says Eli. Helen wants to become a nurse.
"I am happy that both my girls are sponsored children,” says Tlangnunthang. “I know that someone really cares for my family and is willing to help us. I like when sponsors write to us, they are so eager to see my children’s photos. Through sponsorship, not only the girls but the entire household also benefits, like we receive bed sheets, mosquito nets, etc."
Both the girls attend Kanailal Kalampara primary school, which is held in World Vision’s community center. The community had identified low literacy rates and the low quality of education in their area as a major concern. They formed a local committee to run an English primary school. Now the community takes responsibility for maintaining the school and paying the teachers.
"I always dreamed of going to a good school,” says Helen. “Because my daddy is able to get good income from the rubber plantations, now that dream is becoming a reality. We can afford going to a better school.”
From not having a steady job and fearing hunger to being able to provide nutritious food and quality education for his children, Tlangnunthang has come a long way. The rubber plantation has helped Tlangnunthang provide his children with a brighter future and shield them from the sorrows of poverty.
"Now we can hope for a better future for our children,” says Zolien, Tlangnunthang’s wife. “They are getting a good education and our lifestyle has improved, too. As a mother I feel happy that we now have the capacity to take care of our children well.”
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