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A Family Journey

Nam and his family eating lunchCommunity-based support changes lives.

Just a few years ago in Xuan Phong, high in the mountains of northern Vietnam, young Nam’s family would suffer four to six months of food shortage annually. “We had to mix cassava with rice for meals,” says his father, Duong.

Irrigation of the community’s rice paddies meant that, as often as seven times each season, families had to chop down trees to dam streams so that the water would collect, and then they had to carry the water to the field using leaky earthen jars.

The family latrine was out in a field, open to the elements and unsanitary.

In the nearest school, too many children crowded inside its bamboo walls and under its thatched roof, with no access to clean water or sanitation. Children from remote villages had to walk far to get there — if there was even room for them inside. Some were turned away.

Since the arrival of ChildFund in the region, Nam’s and many other families’ lives have greatly improved.

To help the community more easily meet one of its most elemental needs — food — ChildFund provided support for the construction of a new irrigation canal.

“ChildFund has taught us to improve cultivation, lent us money and discussed with us how to generate and manage family income,” says Duong. “Now we have enough rice for food.” With microloans and training from ChildFund, Duong launched a pig-raising enterprise, which finally grew productive enough that he no longer needed the loans.

The family’s increasing stability made it much easier for Nam and his older brother to attend school.

“Through ChildFund, an increasing number of children are attending school,” says Vu Thi Kim Tinh, the head teacher of Xuan Phong school. “We now have concrete-built, well-equipped classrooms, clean water and hygienic toilets. Our teachers have been trained to improve their teaching.”

In fact, when it came time for Nam to make the transition from primary to secondary school, he moved forward eagerly, thanks in great part to ChildFund’s support for child-centered teaching practices and a safe, inclusive environment. “If I hadn’t gone to primary school,” says Nam, “I would not have had the chance to continue studying and would not have the opportunity for high school.

“I am fortunate to go to school,” Nam adds. “I want to study hard to become a doctor. My father always says that he only finished grade 3, and he wants his sons to study as long as possible.”

ChildFund is helping break the generational cycle of poverty.