On the 28th April myself and my two best friends, Dahlia and Cara booked a trip to Sa Pa for a long weekend over a Vietnamese annual holiday. We are currently living in Vietnam, a country full of opportunities to travel to many wonderful places. We were super excited to be deep in the countryside surrounded by mountains and the famous rippling rice paddies creating an abstract feel about the place. We were there for the weekend and with out having spent too much money we had made the most of our trip with incredible experiences and friendly people around us. Little did we know that as our trip was ending our story in Sa Pa had only just began…
We’d checked out our quaint homestay, packed our bags together and with only a couple of hours left before making our way back to Sa Pa town for the night bus back to the capital, we decided to eat at one of the local restaurants we had been intrigued to try since arriving! Sure enough it didn’t fail to please but what really caught our attention was the young girl who we later found out to be the age of 4, came over very confidently and gently placed her hand upon my friend Dahlia’s shoulder, intrigued by whatever she was doing. We had taken some toys and toothbrushes to Sa Pa to give to some of the local children after reading some information about the poverty and lack of dental care, remembering the last toy Dahlia had in her bag she dished out a packet of play dough which we had specifically saved for a little girl. We moved outside before our food came and set up space for her and her little sister who showed so much independence and character at just the age of 2-3 years old to play with their play dough.
It was then that we met the mother and could not understand why she would not speak to us, it was the owner of the restaurant that told us the story behind this family’s heart breaking background. The mother has always been ‘Deaf and mute’ unfortunately making her extremely vulnerable in the dark quiet dusty roads of this small tribal village. She has been raped twice, the outcome of this was becoming a single mother to two beautiful young girls, but her journey has been full of pain and poverty. She had no money, unemployed due to her disability and the roof over her head is not a practical living condition for any family.
Sa Pa is one of the most beautiful, peaceful and friendly places I have ever visited but sure as a tourist coming by to spend money, the appeal of this village will not be the same for the people living here. People are having to send their young children out all hours of the day to sell merchandise for a small income, this is something tourist are encouraged to not support by buying from the children. The people here are all amongst poverty, fending for themselves living off the bare minimal and making use of natural resources. Locals here are not in a position to give to a cause or a charity and so for us to come across this family at a time in our lives where we were in a position to help we had to know more!
When our food arrived at the restaurant we happily shared our meals between the two girls and their mother, my friend Cara even gave the mother her favourite Christian cross necklace and placed it around her neck, she didn’t need words for the way her face beamed showed us all the gratitude in the world – small things!
The daughters were able to speak their native language as well as sign to their mother and speak a few words of English, though I was convinced they knew more than they let us know, they were such inspiring young girls. Brought up in a way we do not see in a western society or even in the City of their own country, they were so intelligent, social, full of character, independent, appreciative, creative and switched on. It was hard to see that with out help it didn’t seem they were going to have a fair chance or opportunities we felt they deserved. As the time approached to leave and it drew very dark the mother began to rush the children to finish their food quickly in order to get them home safe, she wrapped the youngest girl in a cloth around her waist and the older daughter skipped and giggled back at us as they disappeared around the corner.
It truly touched us. This moment couldn’t be left as just a moment. We had to do more.
On the 12th June Dahlia was in a position to be able to re visit the village over the weekend and touch base with the locals about this family, getting together all the relevant information we would need to take action. Mean while me and Cara got a message out in the local church in Hanoi creating a window to display our video blogs and media showing people the extend of this situation for future donations, prayers and possible visits from people who might like to get involved in the project. The weekend has been beyond productive and having Dahlia as a ground contact has now meant we are in a position where we know what needs to be raised and what needs to be done with the money.
We now know that this family is living in a small tarpauling shack with no running water or electricity, held down with rocks, not sure how efficient this will be during the summer when big storms begin to hit. The family unfortunately were out of town due to a family member falling very sick meaning that with no motorbike or money for transport the mother and two daughters were committed to a 3 day hike across the country there and back.
In order to build them a functional concrete house with space for the girls to grow up with in and have access to running water and electricity, it is going to cost around $1,400 (USD). We found out the girls are able to attend school through the council which the eldest daughter is already enrolled into – Brilliant! Meaning our main focus is to allow them somewhere safe and secure to live where the mother can raise her daughters and grow old comfortably. We are asking for help from local people in the city to donate old clothes and toys so the family can have some more personal property and luxury’s. We ourselves will be contributing and funding our own regular trips to help educate the girls and keep everyone up to date with the on going progress until we feel this situation has been resolved and these woman are safe from any further harm.
I am aware that their are more than likely to be many families in awful positions, especially when you branch out to places like this in the world, however we can not always help every one at once and to us this is a start. If we can reach out to a good audience and turn these peoples lives around then who knows what opportunities will be there in the future for us to continue to change and essentially save a life.
We have created a Crowd funding page through Go Fund Me – https://www.gofundme.com/
If this story has touched your heart and you are able to help in any possible way, even the smallest donations are so valuable and appreciated!
Here is a link to a video blog created by Dahlia during her journey over the weekend with video footage of the families current situation as I have just described above. Please check out the video and see it for your own eyes! Thank you for reading and lets hope these posts continue to excel with positive feedback to keep you all up to date.
YouTube Video Blog – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbfvAS59-ms&feature=youtu.be
Crowd Funding donation page – https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lucy-doughty
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