Most of the families there have had children trafficked to the south. Since helping the kids to return last year, we've continued to work with the community to address their poverty and keep the kids in school. For every family, the issues are different. And they're always complex.
Two particular families are receiving some special attention right now.
First is the family of Vien and Viet. Vien is a 10 year old girl who has a significant hearing impairment. She's a bright girl, but has never been to school and is treated pretty badly by the local people. Once when I was talking to her family, a neighbour came into Vien's house and told her to get out! (I promptly threw the guy out and gave Vien a seat next to me. That'll learn ya).
Here's Vien with her cutest smile...
Vien's older brother Viet (pictured below) was trafficked to Saigon a couple of years back to sell flowers on the streets. He's very bright, too, and doing well now that he's back in school.
This family owns a decent block of land, but their house is made of metal and full of holes. It's unbearably hot in summer; impossible to keep dry in the rainy season; and half the house blows away every time there's a strong wind. So we are helping the family build a new house - one that won't blow away!
The second is the family of Hung, another trafficked boy living in a nearby village.
Hung's family is much poorer than Vien and Viet's. His parents don't own, and have never owned, any land. They just live in a thatched hut that they have built on the sand beside the beach. The touching thing about this family is how neat and tidy they keep their home. This is not an easy task to accomplish, but to me it shows their pride and their dignity.
For Hung's family, we have found a block of land to buy in the name of Hung. Once it's been bought, the next step will be to build a house.
Hung is pictured here with his father and two younger sisters, who are too shy to ever speak to me!
It would be easy to help these families buy and build their homes, and then for us to walk away proclaiming what a great job we have done. I've seen it done countless times before - and of course the new house must have the organisation's logo! But for us, providing a home is just one part of the overall picture. It takes a lot more than bricks and mortar to ensure a child an grow up without poverty.
Oh, and we won't be putting our logo on their houses, either.