Thursday, June 27, 2013

One Family, One Toilet: Changing Old Habits to Save Lives in Northern Viet Nam

Quai Nua commune, Tuan Giao district – Until not so long ago, Lo, Thi Trang, did exactly like other children in her village when the call of nature came. 

“I used to poop in the river”, the 12 year-old giggles. “We had had no toilet and did not even know what it was. Really, I didn’t mind. We used to go down the hill to the river. Everyone in the village was doing the same: no shame! During the rainy season, it was a bit scary as it became slippery and we had to watch our steps.”

Trang is proud to introduce the new hygienic latrine that her parents built next to her house seven months ago, in Quai Nua commune, Tuan Giao district, Dien Bien province.
© UNICEF Viet Nam/2013/Matthew Dakin

Boarding schools provide education and security for vulnerable children in Viet Nam

A programme in Viet Nam supports ethnic minority children in their learning.
Giang Thi Me is visiting her family during weekend. Together with 90 other Mong students, she stays in school in weekdays as it’s too far for her to travel from home to school everyday.
DIEN BIEN PROVINCE, Viet Nam – At 6:30 a.m. in this remote, mountainous region of northern Viet Nam, the day has begun at the Tua Thang boarding school. Giang Thi Me, 7, is one of the more than 300 students at the school. She is a member of the Mong ethnic minority. Together with 90 other students, Me stays in the school in weekdays as it’s too far for her to travel from home to school everyday.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Fighting the stereotypes: disabilities report launch is a big hit in Viet Nam

On 30 May 2013, UNICEF launched its annual flagship report, State of the World’s Children, in Da Nang, Viet Nam. The subject was disability. Andy Brown was on the ground with UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake as he visited centres around Da Nang and met children with disabilities.

Children with disabilities pose for a photo after their drum game
© UNICEF EAPRO/2013/Andy Brown
I arrived in Viet Nam two days before the report launch. From the air, Da Nang is stunning. We came in to land at sunset, with a cloudless view across a wide river delta and out to sea. Trees and village houses cast long shadows across the waterways and mud-brown fields. Near the coast, a handful of limestone peaks (the Marble Mountains) rose out of an otherwise flat landscape. Here and there, a few cargo boats made their way downstream to the sea.

But Da Nang also has a dark side. During the Vietnam War, its airfield was used to store containers of ‘Agent Orange’, a chemical that was sprayed over the countryside to destroy crops and forests. Now, almost four decades later, Da Nang still has one of the highest rates of birth defects in the region. This is widely attributed to Agent Orange, which contaminates the water supply and food chain.