Vietnam is a physically beautiful country, as are the warm friendly people, with rich meaningful traditions that have encountered many challenges and changes over the years. An excellent way to experience this culture is working directly with Vietnamese people, which will be the emphasis of this project. An added bonus is the opportunity to get to know many interesting, positive people with a wide variety of backgrounds.
Vietnam (“Viet Nam” in Vietnamese), officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia, bordering China, Laos and Cambodia. It is a country of divine contrasts. The scene changes from the bustling and chaotic streets of Hanoi in the north, down 3,450 kilometers of coastline to the tranquil rice paddies and tropical islands in the south.
The country has experienced significant economic growth in the past two decades as the country shifted to a market style economy. A driving force for the future is Vietnam’s strongly motivated and educated population – the country boasts a 90 percent literacy rate.
But while Vietnam has the second-fastest growing economy in Asia, it is still one of the poorest countries in the region. A 2004 census estimated 19.5 percent of Vietnamese lived below the national poverty line. Substandard housing in Vietnam ranges from overcrowded urban units to shacks constructed from scraps or natural materials that need frequent replacing.
The climate in Vietnam is tropical in the south and monsoonal in the north, with a hot, rainy season from May to September and a warmer, dry season from October to March. The landscape ranges between low delta in the south to central highlands, and mountains in the far north and northeast. Hanoi is the capital of Vietnam, situated on the Red River in the north of the country. It was the capital of French Indochina from 1887 to 1946 and of North Vietnam before the reunification of North and South Vietnam.
About Habitat for Humanity Vietnam
Habitat’s work in Vietnam is undertaken through the Habitat for Humanity Vietnam national office that was established in October 2002. Currently, Habitat has projects in the provinces of Thai Binh and Tien Giang.
In March 2005, Habitat Vietnam started a pilot project to reduce poverty levels in four districts of the southern province of Kien Giang. This initiative, with the help of the provincial authorities, extended existing microfinance networks so families could save and access credit for home improvements. The approach proved a speedy way to help hundreds of families. It is replicated in another pilot project in another southern province, Tien Giang, where more than 1,000 families are being provided with improved sanitation and housing.
To learn more about HFH Vietnam, visit www.habitatvietnam.org.
Types of construction for volunteers
Volunteers may work on existing home renovations and complete home construction. Volunteers may help to transport materials; fill foundation with dirt, stone or sand; compact floors; mix mortar; lay bricks; and clean and paint doors and windows.
Day 1 Friday, May 2, 2014: Depart the United States.
Day 2 Saturday, May 3, 2014: Travel day.
Day 3 Sunday, May 4, 2014: Arrival in Hanoi, free time; dinner.
Day 4 Monday, May 5, 2014: Travel to project location; welcome and orientation with local staff member; visit project sites and families; welcome dinner.
Days 5-8 Tuesday, May 6-Friday, May 9, 2014: Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. with lunch on-site. Free time after work to clean up; dinner; time for team activities.
Days 9-10 Saturday, May 10-Sunday, May 11, 2014: Free days; cultural activities in local community.
Days 11-13 Monday, May 12- Wednesday, May 14, 2014: Breakfast served before traveling to work site; work from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. with lunch on-site. Free time after work to clean up; dinner at house; time for team activities.
Day 14 Thursday, May 15, 2014: Farewell lunch with families. Travel to Hanoi; free time for local activities; dinner.
Day 15 Friday, May 16, 2014: Departure day.
Teams typically stay in a local hotel with A/C; participants sharing double-occupancy rooms with private bath.
(For more details about what is included in this cost, visit Global Village program cost.)
Increase your impact: Take the GV Challenge
Habitat for Humanity is accelerating its work to end poverty housing, and we need Global Village teams to help. Set a goal and fundraise to make your impact last longer than the days you’re in the field. Your support builds more homes, creates resource centers, educates families, and advances our projects to build sustainable communities. We’ll even provide tools to make fundraising easy. Take the GV Challenge – join us in sharing our story and building a better world.
Hugh Mitchell is a former Peace Corps Volunteer that has been fortunate to lead several Global Village teams, including four to Southeast Asia. Prospective volunteers are encouraged to contact Hugh at 253-752-2802 or by email at email@example.com