Nearly 200 volunteers supported by POSCO build in southern Vietnam

They contribute to an 85-house project in Ba Ria Vung Tau province

Ba Ria Vung Tau, VIETNAM (Jan. 14, 2016) For Phan Van Xa who has been living on a boat for nine years, a volunteer’s wish for him to live comfortably in a decent home is most heartening. Phan is among 16 families working alongside nearly 200 Habitat for Humanity volunteers in Tan Hoa commune, southern Vietnam.

Most of the volunteers are from Korea with the rest being Vietnamese university students. On a build from 3 to 15 January, the volunteers are supported by Korean steelmaker POSCO which has a factory in the coastal province of Ba Ria Vung Tau. The houses that are being built are located in the resettlement community called Vietnam POSCO Village. More than half of 85 families have moved into their new Habitat houses with the remaining houses to be completed by February 2016.

Prior to this project that was launched in November 2014, POSCO and HFH Vietnam had helped to build homes for another 43 families in the same district of Tan Thanh.

In Vietnam POSCO Village, each 36-square-meter house is made of brick walls with tin roofing sheets and has two bedrooms, a kitchen and a toilet.

Many of the low-income families who have resettled in Tan Hoa commune do not own land. They were either renting a room or living with their relatives. Some were living on a boat while others were informal settlers along the river bank.

The families lacked access to clean water and proper sanitation facilities. When it rained heavily, water would come into their houses through leaky roofs.

Most of them work as laborers in Ba Ria Vung Tau province or find work in the neighboring province as masons, fishermen or farmers. Some farm oysters in the river nearby. In Tan Hoa commune, a worker can earn an average monthly income of about US50.

Other than building new homes, POSCO also supported the construction of the first steel bridge in Da Bac commune, Chau Duc district in the province. In the past, residents were unable to cross the swollen river after heavy rain when wooden bridges were awash with water.

At the end of the build in Tan Hoa commune, home partner Le Van Luyen said: “My wife and my son are now living in a boat on the Thi Vai river. Our life is so hard and inconvenient. But I’m so happy now as we are going to have a new house.

“I’m happy to work alongside with the volunteers although we can’t speak directly to each other. Although the weather is unfavorable, they still worked very hard under direct sunlight. They are so kind. We will miss them,” Le added.

Volunteer Ji-eun Seo said: “This is my first time building in another country. I’m glad to have this opportunity as I can help underprivileged people. Also, I can meet friends and know about a new country. I hope the home-partners will live comfortably in their new home and lead happy lives.”

Her wish is also the desire of home partner Phan Van Xa. He and his two children have been living apart since his wife left him several years ago. “As soon as the new house is completed, we will reunite. It’s the biggest achievement of my life.”