17 November, 2016
Creating a Brighter Future
Mrs Linh lives in a remote village in the Cao Bang Province, one of the poorest areas in Vietnam where many ethnic minorities live in poverty. Linh and her husband are farmers and they have two children: a son in fifth grade and a daughter in 11th grade.
As a child, Mrs Linh was unable to finish school. While education in Vietnam is supposed to be free, other costs like supplies and uniforms mean many families can’t afford it. Because she didn’t complete school, Mrs Linh missed out on fully developing her skills.
After giving birth to her second child, Mrs Linh was diagnosed with a heart problem, which affected her ability to work. This meant Mrs Linh’s husband had to leave home to find seasonal work to support the family. Because a lot of money was spent on Mrs Linh’s medication to try and treat her illness, it became difficult to send the children to school when the costs for textbooks and uniforms began to pile up.
Mrs Linh felt frustrated that she did not have the skills and resources to help improve the wellbeing of her family and community. Often there wouldn’t even be enough food and the family would go hungry. “I felt disappointed sometimes because of the sickness and other challenges,” she said.
So when ADRA came to her village and introduced the Sustainable Livelihood Development Project, Mrs Linh and her husband eagerly decided to join. The project’s goal to empower the community with skills and confidence to change their lives struck a chord with Mrs Linh.
Because of her passion to help other people, Mrs Linh was quickly appointed vice-president of the community development club. To address health issues caused by open defecation, Mrs Linh received hygiene training and returned to teach 75 people from her community about sanitation and hygiene. It was challenging and empowering.
“ADRA provided 20 families with loans to build proper latrines to clean up the village because there was a lot of open defecation and diarrhoea occurring in my village. As a result of the latrine project, kids have less diarrhoea,” Mrs Linh said. “The latrine has given us more convenience as it is cleaner. Before we received a latrine we would walk to the garden to use the toilet. Now the latrine is closer to the house and cleaner.”
Through the project, Mrs Linh and other families also received loans for ducks to generate a higher income for their families. “ADRA taught me how to produce nutritious food for my ducks so that I can sell them at a better price and earn a better income,” Mrs Linh says. She and her husband shared their experiences with raising ducks to another family which was also able to raise their income. With the extra income, Mrs Linh is able to save some money for her children’s education and buy necessary household items such as a refrigerator.
Now, she takes a lead role in bringing positive change to her village and working hard to use her skills to help the whole community. “My greatest achievement on the project would be writing the proposal. I used the knowledge that I have received to write a proposal for my community and my family for example in building the latrine a family must submit a proposal on their own,” she says.
Mrs Linh looks back on the past and can see a positive change in her life. “In recent years I have regained confidence and motivation for life so I feel better now.”