Viet Nam News
by Vương Bạch Liên
When Trần Việt Anh visited the mountainous Hà Giang Province in March 2015 with friends, he had no idea that the trip would impact and change their lives.
One day, while resting by the Miện River in Quản Bạ District’s Cán Tỷ Commune, the group of friends spotted a stone painted with little flowers. On inquiring, the youngsters discovered that it was one of the artworks created by little girls from the Mông ethnic group, who live near the river.
Impressed by the simple beauty of the stone artworks, the friends took them back to Hà Nội, called them Hoa Trên Đá (Flowers on Stone), repainted them and sold them at auction. With the proceeds, the youngsters bought utensils and painting tools and offered them to those same little girls in Hà Giang.
The name Hoa Trên Đá is also used to describe the local inhabitants of Hà Giang, for their beauty, courage, and optimism despite living a hard life by the high mountains. Việt Nam’s northernmost mountainous province, Hà Giang is known as the stone plateau of the country and has some of the most breathtaking landscapes.
After that, Hoa Trên Đá has evolved into a community project to help children from the country’s disadvantaged regions. The first official activity of the project was to teach children to paint; they have also started building new playgrounds for children from these regions.
This painting class was held in Sa Pa District’s Thanh Kim Commune in Lào Cai Province. “When we look at those children painting so passionately, we know that we can do a meaningful job and tell ourselves that we have to maintain and develop this project,” said Anh.
The group of friends keeps returning to Hà Giang, to meet local people and collect stones and pebbles by the Miện river, taking them back to Hà Nội, where they create beautiful artworks by painting flowers and landscapes on the stones.
In April this year, the 10 founding members started their second activity - they created a fan page on Facebook and called for volunteers. Many architecture and arts university students responded, and they got the support of some well-known young painters, including Hương Qici and Đỗ Đặng Đại. This time they collected VNĐ17million (US$765) and with the money, they built a playground for a school in Hà Giang.
“It’s a simple playground. We used car tyres and other materials to make horses, swings and seesaws. We also decorated the school with our paintings. We are glad we did this as the playground has brought a lot of joy to the children,” said Anh.
This month, the group plans to build a playground for children in Phù Long Commune in Cát Hải District’s Hải Phòng city. Previously, they had earned VNĐ7million auctioning the painted stones.
“The more we travel, the more we see that children actually do not have many playgrounds because of rapid urbanisation… We plan to build new playgrounds on vacant land or in primary schools in the city,” said Anh, who is originally from Hải Phòng.
He hopes the project will get the support of more volunteers in Hải Phòng, who will come and help the group look for materials and build the playground on weekends when they are free. VNS