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Country and people

World Vision's Quan Hoa Area Development Project

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Country and people back
location: Southeast Asia
area: 329'560 km²
capital: Hanoi
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, or Vietnam (or Viet Nam), is a country in Southeast Asia. Situated in eastern Indochina, it borders China, Laos, Cambodia, and the South China Sea.
The name of the country comes from the Vietnamese Việt Nam, which is in turn a reordering of Nam Việt, the name of an ancient kingdom of the ancestral Vietnamese that covered much of today's northern Vietnam.
Vietnam's history has never been studied carefully. Vietnamese legends hold that native people populated and civilized the land more than 3,000 years ago. Chinese historical records tell of an indigenous people that existed about 2,500 years ago. Some historians, both in Asia and in the west, hold that the various peoples of today's Vietnam were brought together by a Qin Dynasty-era general who had been fed up with the despotic rule of the Qin Shi Huang (first emperor of China proper) and escaped to the "southern Yue [Viet] mountains" to set up his own kingdom. He and his soldiers conquered the land and established a civilized society modeled after ancient Chinese customs. Interestingly -- and puzzlingly -- this Chinese general adopted the native language (which probably sounded similar to southern Chinese dialects anyway) and married local women, who gave birth to sons that inherited the kingdom. Whether this is indeed historically true or not is still subject open to debate.
What is known for sure is that for most of the period from 207 BC to the early 10th century, it was under the rule of successive dynasties of China. Vietnam gained status as an independent state (as opposed to a Chinese province) in 939AD, and complete autonomy a century later. For much of its history, Vietnam remained a vassal state in the protective shadow of its much bigger northern neighbour, China. However, during the rule of the Tran Dynasty, it defeated three Mongolian attempts of invasion by the Yuan Dynasty which had conquered much of China proper. The independent period ended in mid-19th century, when the country was brutally colonized by France.
During World War II, Japan occupied Vietnam and used the country as a base to launch attacks against the rest of Indochina and India. When the war ended, France attempted to re-establish control but ultimately failed. The Geneva Accords subsequently divided the country into North Vietnam and South Vietnam, separated by a demilitarized zone.
During the Cold War, the North was supported by the People's Republic of China and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics while the South was supported by the United States of America and other western countries. Tensions quickly escalated into the Vietnam War. The war continued until the Paris Peace Accords on January 27, 1973, which formally recognized the sovereignty of both sides.
American troops were withdrawn by March 29, 1973. By April 30, 1975, communist forces overtook South Vietnam and by 1976, Vietnam was officially unified under the North Vietnamese government as Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
In late 1978, Cambodian people, with the support of the Vietnamese Army, removed the Khmer Rouge from power. Only one month later, however, partially in retaliation, China launched a short-lived incursion into Vietnam: the Sino-Vietnamese War.

The country is approximately 331,688 square kilometers in area, which is slightly larger than New Mexico and slightly smaller than Germany. The topography consists of hills and densely forested mountains, with level land covering no more than 20 percent. Mountains account for 40 percent, hills 40 percent, and forests 75 percent. The northern part of the country consists of highlands and the Red River Delta. Phan Xi Păng, located in Lào Cai province, is the highest mountain in Vietnam (3143 m). The south is divided into coastal lowlands, Dai Truong Son (central mountains) with high plateaus, and the Mekong River Delta.
The climate is tropical and monsoonal; humidity averages 84 percent throughout the year. Annual rainfall ranges from 120 to 300 centimeters, and annual temperatures vary between 5°C and 37°C. Land boundaries: Total: 4,639 km
Border countries: Cambodia 1,228 km, China 1,281 km, Laos 2,130 km

World Vision's Quan Hoa Area Development Project back

The program that was started 1999 will contribute to the reestablishment of green productive area of target communes in Quan Hoa, that are managed in a sustainable way by healthy farmers and their healthy children, maintaining the ecological, economical, social and culture diversity of the area. The duration of the project will be 12 to 15 years.

General Overview

Quan Hoa is a remote, rural and mountainous district. It is located 146 km in the west of Thanh Hoa City and 300 km South-West of Hanoi Capital. Quan Hoa borders Son La and Hoa Binh province in the North, Ba Thuoc District in the South, Lao PDR in the West. Quan Hoa is divided into 17 communes, one district town and it has total of 110 hamlets.

The total area is 104,000 ha in which there are 739,97 ha of paddy land with the productivity of 4,5 tones/ha/year, 5260,94 ha of forest areas. Quan Hoa has 40,905 inhabitants in 7,352 household in which there are 10,535 women from 15 to 49 year old; 3,569 children under five (until the end of 1999). Four ethnic groups live in the district, that includes Thai 74 %, Muong 17,6 %, King 7 % and Hoa (Chinese) 1,4 %.
Nearly 100 % of Quan Hoa population is involved in agrarian occupations. Income ran-ge is from US$ 13-17. Around 27-30 % of house holds are classified as very poor with the average income of 13 kilograms of food/person/month. Quan Hoa is one of the poorest regions of the province.

100% of families have their own house on stilts that are made by bamboo and palmleaves. Animals are raised on the ground be-low and around the house, poultry and cattle died because of epidemics. In Quan Hoa, most families do not have access to clean water, they take water from the river for daily use which is often contaminated by waste of animal and human. 70 % of total households do not have hygienic toilets. People can get to these communes by car and motorbike, but the roads are in a very bad condition, especially the inter-village roads. Furthermore many hamlets are separated by the rivers so that during rainy season children can not get to school, serious patients are not referred to the commune health station or hospital and cannot be provided with medicine.

Major Inputs

Food Security and Production:

Assist local people to build Sloping Agriculture Land Technologies models.
Assist to establish nursery gardens at household level.
Assist to build small-scale irrigation system to water for paddy rice fields to increase one more crop in a year and crops yield. Set up water users association at the hamlet level for management and maintenance of the irrigation systems.

Pilot new type of rice seeds, other cash-crop, perennials to increase food consumptions and diversify crosp.

Pilot duck-rice cultivation to help farmers to increase income and environment protection.

Training for hamlet facilitators and local farmers on new techniques of intensive farming, animal raising, Veterinary, Plant protection, IPM.


Assist providing training to Commune Health Staff and Hamlet Health Workers.

Organize supply of medicaments.
Assist to build or renovate Commune Health Stations.
Asset local people to build clean gravity water supply systems.
Each families about the importance of food for a good health and and best possible immunity against diseases.

There are many analphabets in Vietnam. It is very important that children and especially girls have the chance to go to school and learn reading and writing.
Assist building and renovate primary schools.
Provision school supplies to poor pupils to encourage them in studying, reduce drop out rate.
Training teachers on teaching methods.
Teach parents how important school is, so they send their kids. Many families prefer to keep their kids at home so they can help with daily work.

Assist to build suspension bridge and inter-villages roads.

Womens Rights:
Girls get special attention in the projects of World Vision. Very often they are the most suffering group in such communities. Parents need to learn about the importance of education of girls. This is the reason why 60 % of World Visions's sponsor children are girls. They are trying to make up a little bit for the imbalance.

An important requirement for a successful project is that local people are actively taking part in the projects. World Vision is supporting them and financing, but they do this with the locals. Whenever possible, local ressources are used and the mainte-nance of buildings that were built with and for them for example is the duty of the locals. The goal is that after the project the locals can do everything themselves. So ongoing education is an important part of every project.

Visiting our sponsorchild in Vietnam - Adventure Report back

This summer, my daughter Marina and I visited ThiDoan in Vietnam. We wanted to see how World Vision operates and how they make use of the sponsor contributions. We also wanted to find out whether this child existed and learn about what it is like to live in Vietnam, a world which is definitely very different from ours in Europe.

Our trip was a great success and a very rich experience. We announced our visit in our local World Vision Office in Switzerland. They made contact with the local office in Hanoi and very soon we had a detailed travel plan. Looking at it, we knew that this trip was going to be unusual and probably a little bit exhausting. At 8 am a local World Vision employee came to pick us up at our hotel in Hanoi. We had to travel by car for a couple of hours. But the trip was very entertaining. If you look at the pictures in the foto gallery you can see that we were driving through a most beautiful country. We saw rice fields, lotus flower fields, buffalos, bamboo trees, beautiful mountains and lots of unusual scenes. We stopped in Than Hoa to have lunch. We were invited to the first class restaurant there and under the curious eyes of locals ate our vegetable soup and the rice.

Then we moved on to Quan Hoa, which is where the office is, that coordinates the projects in that area. We arrived early in the afternoon, so we had plenty of time for sight seeing. One of our World Vision guides took us on a tour through the village. We were the big attraction. Not too often Europeans come to such remote mountain areas. We saw the market place which was beautiful and everybody was coming out of their houses in order to see us. When I took my camera out getting ready to make a picture, the adults would run away and the kids would come and smile at us. One of the guys invited us to eat at his house. His wife cooked a noodle soup, which is acceptable for a European stomach. We gladly accepted the invitation and were seated at the table in his house. When the soup was served everybody disappeared. We were sitting there with our guide eating our soup alone. We were told that this was the custom there. Next we went to see the local schoolhouse which had been built with the support of World Vision. It was a simple, nice building with four classrooms equipped with wooden tables and benches, big enough for approximately 100 kids. Building such a schoolhouse costs approximately $ 20'000.

After that we went to see the local hospital and the gardening school. An older vietnamese lady with a beautiful and wise face is running the place and showed us around. They grow plants there to be placed out in the region once they are big enough. Also local people are educated there in more efficient farming techniques. After training they go back to their hamlets and teach other people out there. The lady that runs this nursery invited us for a cup of green tea in her house. We took our shoes off and sat on the floor in her home together with the whole family. Her daughter and her son were there with their children. As most families there they lived in just one single room, being living room, bedroom and kitchen at the same time. Soon we had to go back to the World Vision office. We were invited for dinner in the local restaurant. There was no power that night, which is very common. Everything was dark, except that restaurant must have had a separate power supply. So we had light and even ventilation was working. We had a rich dinner with vegetable soup, rice, fish, chicken, omeletts and much more. Local people when eating they just spit bones and other stuff they don't eat on the floor. We couldn't believe our eyes. Whenever we wanted to sit down in such a place we had to check first, what was under the table. But usually the cats came along pretty fast and took care of it. We spent the night in Quan Hoa. It was a very simple, but clean and friendly place. But we had to sleep on a rice mat and it was 38° Celcius and the Ventilator didn't do its job because there was no power. Outside some animals were houling all night. I've had better nights. But it felt pretty adventurous.

On the next morning we were taken into the project region with an old Army Jeep. We left at 7 am and were told that the trip would take 2 hours, which is a long time for only 12 km. An older Vietnamese guy who was obviously not doing this for the first time, drove that jeep to Thanh Xuan, which is were we were supposed to meet our sponsorchild.

The main street in Thanh Xuan

It wasn't really a drive, it was a mudslide. Sometimes mud was so deep that the driver had to try several paths through the mud until he would find one that worked. It became obvious why they needed money in order to make better streets.
Suddenly, we seemed to be there: In the midst of the mud the car stopped. Around us we saw some pretty neat houses, built from bamboo und palmleaves.

Between the houses just mud, lots of curious faces, some goats and chickens. Those people had not seen many Europeans in their live. So we were an attraction again.

Our sponsorchild was there with her parents. She looked like on the pictures and meeting her was a moving experience. We exchanged presents. Thanks to the translating help of our vietnamese World Vision guides we were able to speak to those local people. Our foto collection of Swiss places as well as our color pens were highly admired and everybody had to look at them, touch them and comment on it.  

The father of ThiDoan gave as a handmade scarf as a present. The whole community seemed to be there. The teacher, a young and very friendly lady was also there. Everybody was very cordial and interested in who we are and where we come from. We spent a lot of time asking each other questions. They wanted to know everything about Switzerland and snow. ThiDoan stood up and sang a vietnamese folk songs to us. So we had to be creative and sing something too. We promised to send an audiotape with Swiss songs sung by Swiss children and the teacher promised she would play this to the children at school. It felt great to be there. Vietnamese people, no matter how poor they are, they laugh all day and are very friendly and open. They might miss many things we take for granted here, but they have something that would do us good in our so-called civilized countries: they have time for each other, they enjoy each other, they find pleasure in helping and supporting each other, they are content and they laugh a lot.

At the end, we took them with us in the car for some time. You can see the picture where we left them in the foto gallery. From there they had to cross a river and walk home approximately 10 km. No roads go out there. ThiDoan has to come to school all that way every day. If there is too much rain there is no way to get there. It was a sad moment when we had to leave them there.

The way World Vision operates is impressive. All people working for World Vision that we met are cordial, friendly and most enthusiastic about the work they do. They work very hard and they do it in a very professional, well organized and efficient manner. Today I know - and that was one of the things I wanted to find out - that they do the best with the money they get from sponsors. I will further support this Quan Hoa project. I will try to raise funds in Switzerland, helping them to do what needs to be done. Like replacing the mudslides by streets that can also be travelled when it rains. So that even when it rains, sick people can be taken care of and kids can go to school. They need schoolrooms, clean water, assistance for more efficient agricultural models and education in health and nutrition issues. Whenever possible, World Vision uses local resources to reach their goals. But they can't do this without financial support from outside. If you are interested in more information about the Quan Hoa project in Vietnam, you can find it here. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, call your local World Vision office and talk to them. You can choose the country where your sponsorchild comes from. This is a great way to become familiar with another country. Not only do you receive letters from your sponsor child, you also get an annual report about the progress of the project and the plans.

Foto Gallery back

The most beautiful and impressive pictures of our journey to Quan Hoa:

Impressions from Hanoi

The way to Quan Hoa

Meeting ThiDoan
Ha Long and Central Vietnam

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