Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 19:

Stopped by PLAN office to say Hi to the good looking young PLAN staff... Everyone was already busy working. They all called me Auntie!! It's so wonderful to see more and more young Vietnamese involved in humanitarian work. Like everyone else in the world,  I am sure they could use the income , but from what I see with these young people, it's a lot more than that.

Here is Thuy, also the "wolf" among the sheep! When Thuy fist joined PLAN staff in Meo Vac, she was teasingly warned about living and working with a dozen male colleagues as a sheep living among many wolves.. She replied:" Don't you know I am the wolf, and you guys are the sheep?" Thus her nickname. A beautiful and delightful young lady!!!! 

Hung, one of young PLAN staff, was assigned to give me a ride to visit some villages further out of Meo Vac. We were given two escorts from the town hall.  

From the main road, Hung turned into a narrow path, narrow enough to fit a foot! From here we rode pass fields to a cluster of homes. One of our escorts, who was Hmong, told us extended families live in each cluster. 

The homes were fenced by rock walls. There are lots of rocks here. 

We followed the children's laughter and found a group of little kiddos having lots of fun swinging on the rope they hung over the roof rafter! 

We could see how hard life is for them. All the water containers were empty. It is very difficult to get water for farming and cooking. About half had some kind of eye infection and about everyone had a runny nose! At least three kids were without pants. Hung told me in the winter, even in 6 degrees C, some of the boys -- some were up to 6 y.o. --  didn't wear pants, and the children walk to school in the same clothes they wore in the summer, many without shoes....
We visited a few more homes. The children were watched by their grandmothers.

The homes were built with reeds and wood slats that will not be able to shield them properly in the winter. It seems the homes don't have real walls, just an open area with the kitchen immediately inside the front door. It also serves as a living room where everyone congregates with beds against the walls. 

It's disheartening to see the condition of life in this group of families where people live in the same room with their livestock. There were homes with cows outside, but the stalls lean onto the open-slatted walls of their home. In one particular home, next to a bed (with blue mosquito net), a section of the house was used for their animals with a large pile of dung and some vegetation nearby for the cow(s).

On the stove, the memen, a cornmeal dish was already cooked and would be served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hung said that's pretty much what they eat everyday, and very little protein. 


 I also noticed the children and adults were rather small and was told that, besides their poverty and lack of food, water, and proper sanitation, many of the tribal minorities here married within their family among first or second cousins and that has also caused lots of health issues. 

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