Vietnam Project Report 2013


Activity Report  -6th Contribution-

Again this year I visited Van Don island in Quan Ninh province. This is 220km northeast of Ha Noi near the Chinese border and beyond the famous Ha Long bay, a world heritage site. This is the sixth visit to the same island.

Adding to this area, I visited new groups of children in very poor minority tribal area in the mountain side in mid-Vietnam, too. 

The purposes of the visit this time was to give a study scholarship to 92 children in northeast Vietnam and raincoats, study goods, milk boxes and school bags to 177 elementary school children in mid-Vietnam.

Mr. and Ms. Ito, two Japanese nationals joined Nhat(Mr) and Lam(Mr) in Ha Noi.  Nhat is working for an NGO called CARE as a HIV/AIDS project specialist and also working for such as sex worker, ethnic minority, migrant workers, etc.  Lam used to work for a media company and is now a freelance reporter.

Both men were introduced to Mr. Ito by one of the NPO-LESA English instructors. All are now good friends.  Both of them are very good English speaker and helped Mr. Ito as translators of Vietnamese and English. Nhat prepared almost all present goods in Ha Noi and set up everything.

It is five-and-a-half hour drive from Hanoi to Van Don island by car. We chartered a car and drove to the island straight form the airport. This drive was like a car chase in a movie due to Vietnamese traffic style and very hard for foreigners like us. We left Hanoi at 4:00 in the afternoon after six and a half flight from Japan and got to business type hotel in Halong bay in the middle of the way in the evening. We stayed a night there and left there at 7:00am, next morning. It cost only twelve USD for a room per night.

The several main members of the ‘Immortal Flowers’ group hosted us. In total 68 members belong to this group now and all of them are HIV positive and have already lost their husband, wife or their children to AIDS.

We were taken to a community hall. The children were waiting for our arrival.  Hanh(Ms), the Immortal Flower group leader, called out the names of 44 of the children on a list provided by the Immortal Flower group and also we gave study scholarship to 48 children listed for Quan Lan island.  After the welcome greeting, Mr. Ito gave a study scholarship to each child. (3,000 yen per child; in buying power in this district this is equivalent to more than 30,000 yen per child) All children sang the most famous Vietnamese children's song in chorus with Mr. Ito playing along on recorder. The name of the song is ‘The Earth is ours’.  Mr. Ito practiced this song a lot before his visit.

Coming back to Ha Noi after five and a half hour drive, we took a rest at Nhat’s  house and had a dinner. I met Viet, who is a  diplomat of Vietnamese government and worked as consular staff for six years at Vietnamese consulate in Japan, for the first time. He introduced me Nhat at the beginning stage of my contribution work six years ago. He cooked us very nice dinner by himself.

We, four of us left Ha Noi by night train leaves at 11:00pm and got to Don Hoi, mid-Vietnam at 8:00am next morning. We slept in the four people two story bed compartment but due to the rough railway and drive, we could not sleep well.

Huong, who is a lady working for Worldwide NGO called PLAN International, was waiting for our arrival at the station and took us to schools in the mountain side, it took about an hour drive towards LAOS boarder from the station. After crossed a few mountain pass with no crush barrier and muddy road, we reached to the first school. In the middle of the way, a gentleman who is the vice chairman of commune council, joined us. This was a prohibited area for foreign visitors without permission.

This area was so much damaged by bombing and defoliation tactics by US while Vietnam War 45 years ago. They are still affected by dioxin now.

Total 63 children and PTA members were waiting for our arrival at the first school. All the children were wearing donated clothes and rubber slippers or in their bare foot.(see upper bigger photo)  After welcome speech, Mr. Ito presented school bags, which includes notebook, raincoat and boxes of milk, with study scholarship hand to hand. 

All children sang the most famous Vietnamese children's song in chorus with Mr. Ito playing along on recorder. The name of the song is ‘The Earth is ours’, again here.

I visited next smaller school after twenty minutes drive. It was more in the mountainside. Total 22 students were waiting for our visit. After giving the same presents individually, two children who want to be a singer in the future sang a song in the front of us. When I asked their dream in the future, some students answered that they want to be medical doctors. So I suggested them to study hard and play a lot. ( see the upper smaller photo)

After coming back to the town we flew back to Ha Noi by airplane this time.

(The total budget of this time was US$7,000. The schoolbags cost US$1,681, the scholarship was US$4,035, which is equivalent to about ten times worth there.  We had US$500 left out of budget and decided to give special food support for several very poor families for New Year Day called Tet in Vietnam)

I increased total number of children receiving the study scholarship this time round and to do this included some poor children who were not HIV positive. The total number of the children who got scholarship is now 269 and the list of the children is at the NPO-LESA office. I will follow up and use this list again next year.

Thanks to all your help and cooperation we were able to achieve this scholarship donation and our goal of handing things out 'hand-to-hand.

Shinichi Ito wrote this report on Dec. 24, 2013

You can see more detail photos report when you click ‘photos’ up. It might take your time to see the photos. It depends on the speed and power of your PC connection. You can see bigger photos when you click just on each photo or click ‘play slide show’.

2012 Vietnam Report ⇒

2011Vietnam Report ⇒

2008 Vietnam Report⇒

2006 Laos Report⇒


Trip to Vietnam,   December 13-16, 2013