Hope in Hai Duong -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Hope in Hai Duong
By Shala Carlson
Through a combination of new house construction and microfinanced housing improvements, Habitat for Humanity Vietnam has served more than 4,200 households since the program was established in 2002. Habitat now works in six provinces of the country, including the organization’s newest sphere of activity—the northern region around Hanoi and its neighboring city Hai Duong, which will be the Vietnam site of the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project 2009.
Like so many areas of Vietnam’s ever-emerging market economy, Hai Duong is a mixture of old and new. Founded in 1884, the city’s population has almost doubled since 2004, when business and industry began expanding into the area in earnest. But the economic growth of the past five years hasn’t reached those families living at the bottom of the pay-scale pyramid. Hai Duong is home to a handful of fishing communities, floating neighborhoods that allow families to follow the Thai Binh River’s now-dwindling seafood supply but also keep them living on cramped and sometimes dangerous boats with inconsistent access to clean water, schools and the community that surrounds them.
In Hai Duong, as elsewhere in the country, Habitat Vietnam seeks an integrated approach: safe, decent and affordable housing married to water and sanitation improvements, education and infrastructure; vocational training; and overall community empowerment. Habitat Hanoi currently is in talks with local government, putting together a long-term partnership that will reach these families and help get them on solid ground.