Viet Nam News
by Bạch Liên
Wiping the sweat off her face, Dorothy Hood grabbed some water bottles and invited the group working on a new house to drink.
The scorching 36 degree sunshine in Phú Thọ province last week tired the 76 year old woman from New Zealand. But she and her husband 79-year-old Colin Hood kept smiling and eagerly talked about the home that they and their Habitat for Humaity team are building for a disadvantaged family in Phú Thọ’s Tam Nông district.
“I am always glad experience another culture, to meet and talk with local people. I’m very interested in knowing about the real life of Vietnamese people,” Dorothy Hood said.
The couple was among 210 international volunteers who flew to Việt Nam from different countries in the world, including New Zealand, Australia, Japan, the US, Singapore and Hong Kong. They spent a week building 20 houses for poor communties in two coummunes: Hương Nha and Xuân Quang, both in the province’s Tam Nông district.
The project is called the Vietnam Big Build, and it is Habitat for Humanity’s (HFH) biggest event of the year .
“It’s a hard job, but I enjoy it very much”, Colin Hood said, smiling while mixing the mortar.
Each of the 20 new houses takes up 60 sq.m and gets the support of VNĐ45 millions (US$2,000) from Habitat for Humanity. The houses were not totally finished; each family must spend more time plastering and polishing their new homes.
The international volunteer teams for the HFH Vietnam Big Build 2016 came from all walks of life and corners of the world, consisting of grandmothers, students, professionals, retirees, war veterans, honeymooners and life-long volunteers. They worked alongside the future homeowners to help HFH Vietnam reach its goal of building 20 houses in under a week.
"I feel peaceful and excited building here and helping people. The war was bad but now we—who were then enemies—have become friends," says American Tom Chap.
Tom, a Vietnam Big Build volunteer, was a soldier in the 1970s in Central Việt Nam, and he joined a Veterans build in Quảng Nam province in September.
“I’m so glad we’ve succeeded in all our planned activities. It has been a joint effort of many stakeholders, from home-partners and the local government partners to the volunteers, donors and Habitat for Humanity Vietnam staff,” said Kelly Koch, HFH Vietnam’s country director.
“Now look at our fruitful result! 20 beautiful houses, a decent place for 20 families to live and thrive! This is a great demonstration of Habitat’s mission in bringing people together to build strength, stability and self-reliance”, she adds.
New Zealand Ambassador Haike Manning also met and joined the team of New Zealand volunteers at the last day of the project (last Friday).
“I spent a little bit of time at the building site this morning, but only a few minutes, because it was very tiring,” said the Ambassador,
“Our NZ volunteers were all tired, hot, but they were very happy. The real pleasure comes from seeing the total joy on the face of families who will live in those new houses”, he adds.
“The volunteers can be proud of what they did, because with their efforts they have contributed to improve many local people’s lives,” he said.
24-year-old Lưu Thanh Hiền, now a proud homeowner in Hương Nha commune, said that she feels that her life has changed.
“My son suffers from cerebral palsy, and I thought that I would be suffering for most of my life. But now I hope a new, better life will come to us in our new house,” she said.—VNS
About Habitat for Humanity Vietnam: Habitat for Humanity Vietnam, a branch office of Habitat for Humanity International, began operation in 2001 in Đà Nẵng. Habitat Vietnam works with low-income families in new house construction, home repairs, clean water access, safe sanitation, technical assistance as well as them to obtain secure tenure. Currently, Habitat Vietnam is present in Hoà Bình, Thái Nguyên, Phú Thọ, Thái Bình provinces in the north; Quảng Nam province in the central region; and Đồng Tháp, Long An, Tiền Giang, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu provinces in the south. Habitat Vietnam has also launched disaster response projects in Phú Thọ, Đồng Tháp and Quảng Nam provinces.
With their support, Habitat has enabled more than 12,800 low-income Vietnamese families to improve their living conditions through decent homes, clean water and safe sanitation. HFH Vietnam has also provided training in areas such as disaster preparedness, financial education, and hygiene practices to more than 62,700 individuals.