THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Posted: March 13, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY — A University of Utah economics professor is hoping a class project will help some Cambodians rise out of poverty and teach his students a life lesson.
Members of Wade Roberts' international economics class are trying to raise $10,000 to buy cows for Cambodians as part of a lesson on microcredit, the Deseret News of Salt Lake City reported.
Under the project, the Cambodians will milk the cows, use them for work and then use the income to pay off the loans.
"We have some very dedicated students who have educated themselves on microcredit, its potential, the impact it can have on lives," Roberts said.
Students said they chose Cambodia because the dollar will buy much more there. Each cow costs $250, which includes shots, feed and shelter.
Some students plan to travel to Cambodia in June as part of the project.
"When we've discussed poverty and social ills in economics classes, a lot of times the theory doesn't fit with what we see outside," student Jake Frischknecht said. "And it's easy to throw up our hands and say, 'great abstract theory, but we're really not going to do anything about it.' But this micro financing is a fantastic proven tool."
Roberts called it a bold endeavor that will pay off for both the Cambodians and his students.
"I'm passionate about it because I've been there and I know it works and I love having the kids see that spark and see that they actually become part of the solution," he said. "With microcredit, there's a responsibility and accountability that comes back and shows that, yes, this works."
The students are partnering with the nonprofit organization YouthLinc in Utah, and have two fundraisers in April and a Facebook page for donations.