New Zealand Embassy Ha Noi, Viet Nam

Diplomats do get their hands dirty!

Volunteers from five embassies came together in October 2009 with soon to be home owners, the Dao family, to build a home that will be a model for the 30 houses to be constructed in Dong Xa village, Hai Duong Province in Viet Nam, during the Habitat for Humanity International’s Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project: The Mekong Build 2009 in November.

The main project, to be held between 15-20 November, will bring together corporations, individuals and partner organisations to build homes with local families in need. Simultaneously there will be Habitat builds underway in Chiang Mai (Thailand), Sichuan province (China) Vientiane (Laos) and Phnom Penh (Cambodia, as well as Dong Xa (Viet Nam)). After this week long event, over 300 families in these five countries will have directly benefited and have new homes. It is expected that several hundred New Zealanders will be volunteering their time and expertise during this week, including a large contingent in Dong Xa village.

For the test build, embassies of the United States, Australia, Ireland Canada and New Zealand gathered 68 volunteers from staff and family members, with 31 Vietnamese volunteers also joining the effort. The volunteers mixed mortar, laid blocks, plastered, painted, installed roofing and an awning to construct the 36m2 concrete block house. A team of four proudly represented the New Zealand Embassy.

Many fishing families in Don Xa village live on small run-down wooden boats without clean water, sanitation or electricity. Their impoverished way of life affects their health and future of their children, who are often unable to attend school. The Vietnamese Government has set aside land for these families, but they cannot afford to build homes on this land. Like the Dao family, the villagers have plenty of enthusiasm and actively participate in the construction of the homes. The Dao family consists of Dao, his wife Cao Thi Lan, who is expecting their second child and 5 yr old Dao Thi Vi. Dao grew up in a fishing family and didn’t go to school, but he has gone through mechanic’s training in hopes of providing a better life for his family. The family lived on a tiny boat until the conditions became so bad they moved into a room in Lan’s father house. They are now looking forward to moving out of her parent’s house and as the new house is in a good location on the main street, they hope to open a shop which Lan will operate.

Further information on this project can be found at Habitat for Humanity’s Mekong Build 2009 or go to the Habitat for Humanity New Zealand website.

Friday, 30/10/09

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