Over these past few days, I have been traveling with a delegation from Rivers of the World (ROW). We spent the whole day driving in a van in Quang Nam Province, which surrounds Da Nang City. Through small towns with open food markets and shops open to the street selling all you can imagine—corrugated metal, bamboo bird houses, aluminum tables, small red plastic chairs, and even the colorful wedding dresses of pink or blue or red. We turn off these main roads and traveled down narrow cement roads where the largest vehicle gets priority, the motor scooters flowing around. We are visiting three families to tell them that ROW will fund the construction of a new home. Three families—all living with few comforts, leaky roofs, no indoor toilet, and only a neighbor’s well for water.
Of these three families, I want to share with you our visit with Ms. Hoang. To get to Ms. Hoang’s current house we had to park our van and walk one person behind the other down a narrow path. The vegetation was lush and generally protected us from the gray rainy sky, but the path was still wet so we needed to walk carefully to avoid saturating our shoes.
Ms. Hoang is a single mother with two children. She collects recyclables from her neighbors then sells these items. From this labor she earns about $1.50 to $2.50 per day. She is lucky because her house has a good concrete foundation with electricity, but the walls are patched together with rusty metal and scrap wood. There is no indoor toilet. She is resourceful, however, and following a small path she has constructed an outdoor privy protected by old blue plastic tarps.
As we visited with Ms. Hoang, it became very apparent that educating her children is a top priority. Her 10th grade daughter has study corner, very neat and organized with the only colorful thing in the house—a pink and red flowered coverlet over the small desk. Ms. Hoang also has a son who amazingly is in university studying agriculture. To afford this opportunity (which means her son passed the extremely difficult national university exams), she has borrowed nearly $1,500! She hopes that when her son graduates he will get a job and be able to pay off this loan. Surely she will not be able to do this earning $1.50 per day. And then what of her daughter, will she be able to go to university if she passes the exams?
For now, we will rebuild the family’s house using the old foundation. It will have solid brick walls, a small kitchen area, an indoortoilet, and a new roof.
From Da Nang, all my best,
Children of Vietnam