Diligent man turns his life around with soy milk

He is busy making soy milk (taohuay and taohou) to fulfil a customer’s order for a birthday celebration.

Every day, Mr Thongkham Dongkhoth, 59, gets up early to prepare all the ingredients needed to make soy milk to make sure he does not miss the delivery time required by the customer.

During the more than 20 years he has been selling soy milk, the native of Vientiane province has been able to save enough money to buy a 40m x 40m plot of land in Phonphanao village, Xaysettha district, and a plot the same size in Donnoun village, Xaythany district.

Mr Thongkham Dongkhoth. –Photo S.Bouapha

He has also bought a Hyundai pick-up truck and a Toyota pick-up truck to transport the milk to his customers.

What makes him proudest is that his daughter and two sons have graduated with bachelor degrees. All of this has been paid for with the profits made from sales of the milk.

But this success has not happened by ch ance. It is the result of his diligence and hard work. He never surrendered to the difficulties that beset him after he decided to live in Vientiane in 1993. Instead, he always tried new ventures in hopes of having a better life.

Before 1993, he engaged in slash-and-burn farming and fishing in Sanpatong village, Hom district, Vientiane province (now Xaysomboun province). But his life never got any better. So he talked things over with his wife and decided to seek work in Vientiane.

Living in a rural area and having no relatives in the capital, Mr Thongkham’s family rented house to begin with and bought rice to eat. He decided that whatever work he found it would be something legal. His first job was selling fried squid. Every day for a year he pushed a cart carrying squid to sell to people on the streets. But his life did not improve as the business did not go well.

Life continued to be a struggle and some days he and his family did not eat a full meal. He wondered if he would be able to survive in Vientiane, but never gave up trying to makes things work. He stopped selling squid and decided to sell soy milk instead. He didn’t know how to make it but got together with his best friend to see what they could do. He sold his last 15 grams of gold to pay for the item s he needed to try to make soy milk.

For five years (from 1994-1999) he sold the milk he made and found that he was able to make a decent income as the milk proved popular with his customers.

From then on things got better and from 1999-2005 he saved enough money to buy a 40m x 40m plot in Phonphanao village, Xaysettha district.

In 2007, he bought a plot the same size in Donnoun village, Xaythany district. Thanks to his success and his ability to rise above poverty, in 2008 Mr Thongkham and his household were selected as a model family of culture in Phonphanao village.

In 2011, he used the money he earned to build two single-storey concrete houses. One was for his family and one was for the employees who helped him to make the milk every day.

He also bought a new Hyundai pick-up and a new Toyota pick-up so that he could take large quantities of milk to customers.

To help the government with its poverty reduction efforts, Mr Thongkham is willing to teach anyone who wants to learn how to make soy milk.

I will teach anyone who wants to learn how to do this business. In particular, I want to help people who are willing to try hard and are not ashamed to put effort into doing a job that’s legal, he said.

Source: Vientiane Times. Date: December 24 2016