Noodle maker savours success
He gets up 2am every day, while most people are happily sleeping under a blanket. He transports his products along foggy roads in cool weather in the early morning to market vendors who have ordered them in advance.
The job of making rice noodles (khaopoun) keeps Mr Sack Singvongsa busy throughout the day. Every evening, he soaks white rice in preparation for making noodles over the next two days. He has to get the finished noodles to his regular vendors before they open their stalls at 4am. If he gets up late, he may lose customers as the vendors may decide to order noodles from other people.
His 20 years of getting up early every day, soaking the rice, spinning the soaked rice, making the finished product and ensuring the noodles reach his customers on time have sustained him and his family and kept them above the poverty line.
Mr Sack Singvongsa sells his rice noodles for 4,000 kip per kilogramme in Champassak province.
“Poverty is always afraid of diligence,” he says wisely. “If you are hardworking, you and your family will be free of poverty.”
He earns more than 40 million kip in profit each year, which enables his family to live comfortably in their home in Thahin-neua village in Pakxe district, Champassak province.
After saving some money from the sale of his noodles, in 2015 Mr Sack bought a modern spinning machine to roll the noodles as a labour saving device. It cost about 35 million kip and has helped to increase both the quantity and quality of the noodles, which met with the approval of his customers.
He makes 100-500kg of noodles a day, depending on the time of year.
The highest demand occurs in March, April and May, especially in April when everyone celebrates Pi Mai Lao.
He charges 4,000 kip for one kilogramme of noodles, which he mostly sells at Maipakxe, Sounkankha and Mixay markets and to various other customers in Champassak province.
His profits pay for the six staff he employs and for his three children's education.
Mr Sack says his family enjoys a better lifestyle than they did 20 years ago when he did not have a regular source of income. Today, he has a permanent job, a solid house and a car.
His household has been named a model family in Thahin-neua village in recognition of their labours. And he is happy to teach anyone else who may be interested in making rice noodles so that they too can boost their income and climb the ladder to prosperity.
Deputy Head of Thahin-neua village, Mr Chitpasong Xaybandith, says there used to be at least 10 families making rice noodles but some of them stopped as they were making a loss. Today, there are only eight families engaged in this line of work, including Mr Sack's family.
Mr Chitpasong advises farmers who grow white rice to contact the noodle makers as it is their main ingredient and they may be in the market for new sources. Mr Sack and other rice noodle makers in the village normally buy their rice at markets but the price fluctuates and they can never be sure of the cost.
By Xayxana Leukai
(Latest Update March 4 , 2017 )