Students build with Habitat Vietnam

Seventy-four-year-old Tran Kim Xuyen looks forward to better health in a new home built by Habitat for Humanity volunteers in southern Vietnam.

Tran used to worry a lot about annual repairs to her old house, which had tin walls, untreated wooden beams and a thatched roof. Damage from fallen tree branches and flooding after heavy rains added to her concerns.

Things started to look up in January 2014 when a group of Korean students joined peers from local universities in the Tan Thanh district of the Ba Ria-Vung Tau province to work on 10 houses during a special build. The construction work of the 95 Korean and 20 Vietnamese students was supported by Korean steelmaker POSCO, which has funded Habitat Vietnam projects and builds since 2011.

In addition to building, the student volunteers helped paint a local high school and visited an elder care center to present residents with gifts for Tet, the Vietnamese New Year.

Local volunteer Bui Hong Thanh was sad to see the living conditions of those who could not afford a decent place to live, but happy to help. “I cannot support them financially, so I want to contribute my physical effort to help them build a home,” she said. Her enthusiasm spread to her friends who asked how they could join a Habitat build after seeing pictures she posted on Facebook.

The young volunteers’ hard work impressed Tran, who said she would never forget what they had done. “When they leave, my love is with them,” she says.