Out of 20 Thais randomly asked to name their 5 favourite foods, catfish dishes must be mentioned by someone. And if 9-year-old ‘Owantin’ was in this sampling group, she’d definitely say “catfish spicy soup…It’s so good. It’s my favourite.”
Owantin is in Child Sponsorship Programme of World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT). Her family has established a household food source through livestock support provided by Thung Wa Area Programme, Satun province, which promotes family money saving. Out of 3 options of livestock support: catfish, laying chicken, and local chicken raising, Owantin’s mother has selected catfish raising because her daughter is a big fan of catfish dishes.
Owantin’s family has received 500 catfish fingerlings and 4 sacks of fingerling feed. Although they live in a small rental house without any extra space, Auntie Yao, a volunteer of Thung Wa Programme, is kind enough to let the family use an empty space in front of her house to dig a pond to raise the fish.
The family’s 2 x 3 meter fish pond is under a big tree which provides both shade and indirect sun light, making the temperature just right for the fingerlings to live comfortably. The little farmer has never missed a single feeding schedule although the fish pond is 2 km away from home. Every morning before heading to school and every evening on the way home, Owantin would jump on the back saddle of her mother’s motorcycle, which takes her to feed the fingerlings on weekdays. On weekends, Owantin would ask her friends to come along to visit the fish pond and feed the fingerlings together.
“I love watching the fingerlings when they come up to the water surface to eat the feed we throw for them. My friends love it, too.” Owantin smiles happily while watching the fingerlings growing up. Her heart is filled with joy as she sees them get bigger and bigger day by day.
Sooner these fingerlings will grow big enough to be cooked for food. By that time on this family’s dinner table there will be not only a catfish spicy soup, Owantin’s favourite food, but also a variety of dishes made from catfish for everyone to eat and enjoy good health, thanks to the quality protein found in fish meat, in which they need not to spend any single baht from the 300-baht daily wage earned by the parents. Some catfish may even be sold to generate a supplementary income or shared with their neighbours to eat.
Owantin said while smiling: “I’m really happy that I can raise catfish. I’ll have my favourite dish to eat. Thank you so much!”
For any 9-year-old like ‘Owantin’, the most significant child development they deserve in this age group is literacy enhancement to fulfill their learning and build readiness for further educational opportunities. But as long as their stomachs are empty due to family’s inability to keep them full and healthy, children can never focus on studying and their brains will not function in learning properly. As such, WVFT has carried out development work to promote household food security for families of children in Child Sponsorship Programme. Apart from keeping all household members well-fed, secure family food sources provides occupation and income to ensure family well-being and self-sufficiency.